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Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture: The Chauncey L. Williams House


Today, Frank Lloyd Wright is known as one of the most influential architects ever to come out of the United States. However, during his early years his work was often questioned as odd, out-of-the-ordinary, hideous or unique—depending on who you spoke to during that era. In River Forest, Illinois; built in 1895, sits perhaps one of Wright’s most unusual homes of the era: the Chauncey L. Williams house.


Early Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture: The Chauncey L. Williams House in River Forest, Illinois

Examining the exterior of the home, visitors should take note of it’s unusual shape and overall appearance. The bones of the Williams home are clearly Queen Anne; though any additional similarities to other homes of that era stop there. The house is constructed using a boulder rock foundation, followed by a Roman brick and plaster exterior.

When I say the home is “unusual,” I am also referencing what many before me have seen. The interior floor plan is not as well-flowing as some of Wright’s other works. In short, I do personally believe that the Chauncey L. Williams home was an experiment for Wright as he was on a path to discovering his own architectural style.

Entering the home through the Roman arched doorway, most would assume that the polygonal structure to the left would be the living room. However, that room is inaccessible via the front door and nor is it the living room—but instead, it is the library. The room is, ironically, only accessible through the living room, which is located at the back of the home. In this sense, the house is unusual to many who study or have an interest in Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.

Moving on, inside the home are built-in cabinets that line the arched hallway entrance. There is a Roman brick fireplace and bookcases, both located in the home’s library; a beamed ceiling in the living room and a unique quatrefoil window, seen on the facade of the home, next to the front door.

The Williams home was remodeled in 1905 and all but one original dormer was remodeled to reflect the roof’s steep style. The lone original dormer is located on the north side of the home. Wright also removed several of the windows during this remodel, with no replacements made.

The Chauncey L. Williams House Today

Like many homes built both before and after it, the Williams house has remained a private residence. Visitors should respect the privacy of the current owners and avoid trespassing.