Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture: The Francis J. Woolley House
The Francis J. Woolley home—named for the first original occupant, a local lawyer—is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “bootleg” houses. These bootleg houses are a series of homes produced by Wright while he was still under an employment contract with a Chicago architectural firm owned by Adler and Sullivan.
Completed in 1893 following Wright’s dismissal from the firm for creating these off-the-books houses, is considered not only to be a fantastic example of Wright’s talent and evolving style, but it is also a great example of his passion for creating beautiful, well-planned and affordable residential spaces.
Early Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture: The Francis J. Woolley House in Oak Park, Illinois
The Francis J. Woolley house is located on Superior Street, just one street over from Wright’s own home on Chicago Avenue. The house is also placed back-to-back with one of Wright’s other bootleg homes, the Robert P. Parker house of 1892. The Woolley house is also located near several of Wright’s other designs produced during that era in the famed Oak Park neighborhood including the Walter Gale house, the Thomas Gale house and several others.
Though it is technically a Victorian or a Queen Anne styled home, when walking up to the two-story house, visitors can easily see Wright’s influence and his growing favoring of geometric designs and patterns. The house features a high-pitched hip roof along with deep eaves. Wright enthusiasts will take note of these eaves, as this style of eaves would become a staple in some of Wright’s later, more famous designs. The front porch of the home seems to somewhat mimic the house as a hole, featuring it’s own smaller, though still high-pitched roof.
The Woolley house also features several polygonal bay windows on the first and second floors. When looking up at the second story, passersby may notice that the front of the home features a polygonal dormer window, while the sides feature rectangular dormers.
Wright’s Bootleg Houses: The Francis J. Woolley House Today
Over the years, the Woolley home has remained a private residency. It is listed as a contributing property of the Frank Lloyd Wright—Prairie School of Architecture Historic District and in 1973 it was also added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Though it is easily located due to it’s close proximity to several other Wright-designed homes, those who wish to view the home should keep in mind that it is a private home and therefore it is important to respect the privacy of those who live there.