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Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture: The George W. Smith House; 1898


In 1898, Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned to build a home for a local Marshall Field and Company salesman named George W. Smith. However, this particular home was actually a design from 1895 and is part of Frank Lloyd Wright’s earlier works prior to his ongoing development of what would become known as his modern, Prairie style architecture.

Though it is extremely different in outward appearances in comparison to other Wright designs that would be built during that same year, it still features several architectural details that would over time, become staples in other more famous Wright designs.


Early Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture: The George W. Smith House in Oak Park, Illinois

As stated before, the George W. Smith home is by no means similar in appearance to the other homes produced during that same year, which would become known as Wright’s experimental period. That being said, the home’s design does feature several elements including a broad, flat chimney and the eaves found in some of his past and eventually, many of his future designs. Lastly, the home also features diamond-paned art glass, which as expected, would become another future Wright design staple.

Another notable element of the home is the high pitched, double sloped roof. It should be noted that by 1898, Frank Lloyd Wright was using horizontal boards to create siding in his new designs—at least, those that were not composed of stone, brick or some other construction material. However, for the George W. Smith home, he chose to cover the house in the same horizontal shingles that he would have previously used in his earlier designs.

When all is said and done, many historians consider this particular home to be similar in appearance to the Harry C. Goodrich house, which was built a few years prior in 1896. It is said that these two homes may be part of a group of houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for Charles Roberts, though the homes were never built.

The George W. Smith House Today

As of 1983, the George W. Smith home is listed as a part of the Oak Park Historic District. It is a fantastic example of Wright’s early, pre-Prairie work.

Like many of Wright’s residential designs, the George W. Smith house has remained a private home throughout the years. Therefore, it is important that visitors remain respectful of the privacy of the current—and future—owners and trespassing should be avoided.