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Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture: The James Charnley House; 1892


In 1890, Frank Lloyd Wright designed in the James Charnley summer home (and it’s octagonal guest house) in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. A year later, he would be commissioned to design a more permanent year-round residence for Mr. Charnley. This home, technically a collaboration of both his boss, Louis Sullivan (of the Sullivan & Adler architectural firm,) and Wright, is a Chicago landmark as well as a National Historic Landmark.


Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture in Chicago: The James Charnley House

Located on a corner lot in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, the James Charnley house was a design well before it’s time and today is still considered modern. When approaching this house, visitors will note the raised basement along with the tasteful combination of brick, ashler grey limestone and yellow Roman brick that reaches upward toward the roof. Though the facade of the home is relatively plain in comparison to many other more Victorian homes of the era, it is still considered a work of art.

The house also features a recessed center bay along with a wooden deck, giving the home additional outdoor living space that can be enjoyed during the warmer months of the year. In 1927, there would also be an addition to the South side of the home.

While the exterior of the home is considered to be relatively plain in comparison to other homes of the era (such as Victorian or Queen Anne styled homes,) the interior is considered by many to be extremely ornate. The home, located at 1365 North Astor St., features a floor plan in which there is one room on either side of the central atrium. When entering the home, visitors are greeted by gorgeous woodwork including oak panels with geometric patterns and quartersawn oak flooring throughout the main rooms and the stairways.

The Charnley-Persky House Today

While James Charnley only lived in the house for approximately 10 years, it is still referred to as the Charnley residence. In 1995, the house was purchased by Seymour Persky, who then donated it to the Society of Architectural Historians. In honor of the donation, the Society of Architectural Historians renamed the building the Charnley-Persky House.

While the house is now home to the Society of Architectural Historians, as of August 2016, it is open a few days a week for both free and paid tours, depending on the day and the length of the tour. For more information, visit the Society of Architectural Historians website.