Frank Lloyd Wright attended the University of Wisconsin for one year as a civil engineering student before going to Chicago to work for residential architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee. He left Silsbee in 1887 to work for Louis Sullivan, convincing him to hire George Grant Elmslie in 1889. Wright stayed until 1893, when Sullivan fired him for designing houses on the side. He began his own practice at his home and studio in Oak Park.|
Wright believed in Sullivan's idea of a uniquely American architecture reflecting Midwestern geography and suited to the needs of people living in the modern age. Americans no longer needed stuffy, box-like mazes of Victorian rooms-Wright broke free of the box with flowing open floor plans. His houses also included features such as low, sheltering rooflines, horizontal bands of stained glass with organic motifs, and a massive hearth and chimney as a focal point. Like his Prairie School contemporaries, Wright designed not only houses but also everything in them, including furniture, textiles, and lighting, in order to achieve a unified effect in harmony with the architecture.
Wright was arguably the creator of what we now refer to as the Prairie School style; he later used the term to describe his architecture between 1893 and 1910. Although he designed all types of buildings, he focused on applying organic principles to residential architecture. Some of Wright's better known homes from this period include the Susan Lawrence Dana house in Springfield, Illinois (1902), the Francis W. Little house in Peoria, Illinois (1903), and the Darwin Martin house and complex in Buffalo, New York (1904). The Francis W. Little house in Deephaven, Minnesota (1912-14, razed 1972) is considered one of Wright's last great Prairie School houses. A hallway from the Deephaven house can be seen intact at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. see objects >