Frank Lloyd Wright's Westcott House

Two weeks ago, a friend and I drove to Springfield, OH to see the Westcott House. A Prairie Style mansion built in 1908, the Westcott House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for a rich couple who had moved to Springfield from Richmond, IN. The two-story house features a pergola that connects to what was once a garage and attached stable. The whole property is elevated slightly above the street, giving it this air of superiority (though the front door is technically at street level below the house). It was subdivided in the 1940s, fell into disrepair by the 1990s, and was sold to a foundation that successfully restored it to its original look in 2005. It's been open to the public for tours ever since.

This is the first Frank Lloyd Wright home I've ever had the privilege of photographing. What strikes me most about Wright's design is how low the ceilings feel compared to other houses built around the same time. I'm no stranger 12-foot ceilings bedecked with elaborate trim and stenciled designs, and this house has none of that. Aside from some geometric woodwork and a blocky motif shared between the house and it's furnishings, there isn't much in the way of overt extravagance. It feels odd, but not in a bad way. Had this place been built in 1950, I wouldn't bat an eye. When we walked through it, I understood all over again how Wright's influence over the following century of American architecture took form.

The skylight above the second floor foyer adds a nice touch of natural—albeit harshly colored—light to an otherwise dim upper floor. Had the house not been designed with so many windows, it'd feel like more of a man-made cave than a proper dwelling. Bedrooms vary in size, with the patriarch's and matriarch's rooms being the largest (they had separate rooms). Small bathrooms, closets designed with built-in wardrobes, a sleeping balcony (we take air conditioning for granted), servant's quarters and staircase, and a 360-degree view of the surrounding land are all part of the second floor.

The first floor has a staircase that connects the street level front door to the elevated first floor of the house. There, a study with period furniture, a piano and sitting area, a dining table with built-in lamp posts, and a sizable kitchen can be found. The pergola connects a back room and the kitchen to the garage and stables, which now serves as a gift shop and visitor center.

THE PHOTOS

While I shot the house in color, I ultimately chose to make a version of these black and white with a subtle warm hue. I did this because I felt the house demanded an older looking edit due to how hard it tries to preserve its original look. The result, I think, is a pleasant, vintage aesthetic that speaks to Frank Lloyd Wright's turn-of-the-century vision. While I wouldn't apply this type of edit to most of what I shoot, I felt like this particular instance made sense.

If you'd like to see color versions, I put them on Cincinnati Refined.