Friday, July 8, 2016

Vacay 7.0

Upscale Living

The first FLW homes we saw were Usonian (ranch style today) in the 1200 SF range. Next was Kentuck Knob, an "expanded" Usonian design of about 1600 SF. The 2-story Wescott House on Wednesday was 4,400 SF and the expansive Bradley House on Thursday was in the 6,000 SF range. Today we visited the impressive Dana-Thomas House in Springfield, IL, a generous 12,000 SF! It occupies a half city block.

Dana-Thomas House, Springfield, IL
The original owner, Susan Lawrence Dana, was a wealthy widow who spared no expense in building her impressive home in 1902-04.  (Or, more likely, Frank Lloyd Wright took advantage of her desire to impress and saw to it that she spared no expense ... just sayin'.)

Twenty-four years later (and after two more husbands), impoverished and in poor health, Susan moved from the house and it remained mostly vacant (except for some occasional entertaining) for the next 20 years. Charles C. Thomas bought the house and most of its contents in 1944 to use as administrative offices for his publishing company. In 1981 the house was acquired by the State of Illinois and completely renovated. So the house has only had three owners in its 100-year history and most of the original furnishings have remained with the house. 

Unlike most of Wright's residential designs where the entry was hidden, Mrs. Dana requested a dramatic streetside entrance to make it easy for her guests to step out of their carriages and into the house.

Front Entrance - Dana-Thomas House
This was my third visit to this house and I couldn't believe I had missed this most impressive exterior detail (granted, my first visit was at night):

Exterior Detail
There are over 300 of these molded plaster blocks that have been painted to match the weathered copper gutters. Wright designed all of the decorative elements including art glass windows, furniture, and even flower pots. The art glass windows and skylights in this house are absolutely over the top!

As is typical, no interior photography was allowed so our guide politely turned away while I photographed this Oriental carpet that reminded me of a sampler quilt.

A little quilt inspiration
We requested the "specialty" tour that focused on Wright design concepts -- just the two of us and the guide for 2.5 hours. Oh so special! AND tours at the Dana-Thomas house are FREE (though they do "suggest" an appropriate donation). Definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the Springfield, IL area.

The quilt shop stop today was Sew Unique on the north side of Springfield. It is a very small shop with a very limited selection of fabric. This being her first year participating in RBR, she had already sold out of her initial order of license plates. But I was able to order two to be mailed when the next order arrives.

Tomorrow I meet up with Jan, The Colorful Fabriholic, to attend the St. Louis MQG meeting. Hoping to find time to visit a local shop, as well.


  1. That is one big house. That rug is worth breaking the rules for! Have fun at the MQG meeting. I would be like a fish out of water at a modern quilt guild meeting.

  2. Enjoy meeting a fellow blogger and the guild meeting! What a wonderful vacation you are having. Fabric shopping included!!

  3. FLW did not skimp on details that's for sure. Thanks for sharing the photos of the details.


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