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Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture: James Charnley Summer Home; 1890


During the early years of his career, Frank Lloyd Wright was hired by Louis Sullivan of the Sullivan and Adler architectural firm in Chicago, Illinois. In his time at the Sullivan and Adler firm, he would quickly rise within the company to become one of the head residential draftsman and he would work with his boss, Louis Sullivan, to design two summer homes in Mississippi. One of these homes was for his boss, Louis Sullivan, while the other was for his boss’s friend, James Charnley.


Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture: The James Charnley Summer Home and Octagonal Guest House in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

The James Charnley summer home is located in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Built in 1890, the Charnley home is one of Wright’s lesser known works. It is located on 2.36 acres of beachfront property and features more than 3,000 square feet of living space with two bedrooms, a dining room, two and a half bathrooms, a living room and a separate guest house.

Wright designed this home to catch both the onshore and offshore breezes, which helped to cool the home during the muggy and hot Mississippi summer months. Wright also added fireplaces in each bedroom, which aided in heating the home during the cooler winter nights. Each bedroom also featured an octagonal shaped bay, which added to the overall space of the building and to the overall architectural appeal of the home.

The guest house on the property was also built during the same year. Originally, the guest house was designed in an octagonal shape with a single wall dividing the house into two separate rooms. However, through the years the guest house was expanded with an addition added to the rear of the building.

William Allin Storer, author of The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: A Complete Catalog (third edition,) adds that Wright clearly favored the Charnley home over the Sullivan home; as not only was the home larger, but it featured more of the finer details that Wright would become known for.

The James Charnley Summer Home Today

In August of 2005, the then-115-year-old James Charnley home was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina. According to Save Wright, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy; the Mississippi Department of History and Archives has granted a full grant for the home to be restored to it’s original state. As of July 2015, the home is currently listed for sale at 1.3 million dollars.