Controversial Frank Lloyd Wright Houses: The W. H. Freeman House

In 1903, Frank Lloyd Wright was just in the beginning stages of his career which would eventually take him all around the world. He would become known by many today to be the most influential American architect ever born. Unfortunately, some of his houses are often controversial or disputed because there are designs but no proof of execution, or there is a house but no proof that it is Wright, among many other issues that can arise. The W. H. Freeman house in Hinsdale, Illinois; is considered by some to be a controversial home.

Is the W. H. Freeman House a Frank Lloyd Wright Design?

While researching the W. H. Freeman house in Hinsdale, Illinois; there are several photographs of the home located on the proposed plot of land on North Washington street. Visitors and Wright enthusiasts notice and often complain that something doesn’t feel quite “Wright” with the home; pardon the pun. The roof seems odd and strikes a chord among many amateur and professional enthusiasts of Wright’s work.

Further research shows that there are drawings of the home, though they may or may not have been designed by one of Wright’s students of the time. However, this too, is debatable as it is extremely early in Wright’s career and at that particular time frame in the early 1900s, he is not known to have any students studying beneath him.

So this particular home, though it is on the correct plot of land, may or may not be a Wright design. In fact, many will easily note that the home that does exist on the plot of land is noticeably different from the drawings and design plants that were supposedly created for W. H. Freeman by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Speculation could state that perhaps Freeman was dissatisfied with Wright’s designs and took them elsewhere to be altered by another architect; which would make the design a partial Frank Lloyd Wright. However, this is pure speculation; though further sources, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, a reputable historian, lists the W. H. Freeman house as completed though “unsupervised” as well as “altered in execution.”

With this information in hand, there is currently no proof that definitively determines the home as a Wright design. Perhaps the home’s owner, W. H. Freeman demanded major changes to the design during the construction period, causing Wright to simply abandon and ignore the project. This is also a possibility, as Wright has previously “disowned” other homes, such as the George W. Spencer house on Lake Delavan in Wisconsin, constructed a year earlier in 1902.

Much speculation revolving the home is directly regarding the combined gabled and hipped roof. Many are unsure if Wright would have intentionally designed a home that featured a roof that was both gabled and hipped. Perhaps it was an experiment gone awry and rather than face humiliation, Wright simply ignored it. If so, were the original drawings altered to show the gabled roofs which were added during construction so as to make the house seem to it’s design? Perhaps we’ll never know the truth behind the W. H. Freeman house.