Buildings, too, are children of Earth and Sun.
Frank Lloyd Wright
The Last of the Prairie Homes
The Francis W. Little House
From 1912 to 1914, Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built a summer home for Francis W. and Mary Little in Wayzata, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis on Lake Minnetonka. Wright had previously built a home for them in Peoria, Illinois in 1903 and the Littles wanted him to create another home that was spacious, luxurious and celebrated the natural beauty of the landscape. The house turned out to be one of the last Prairie homes that Wright would build in the Midwest, and was one of the most expressive and exemplar of the style that he had pioneered.
The present lot is a set of interior doors, likely from one of the hallways that radiated outward from the grand, central living room, to the other rooms of the home. As is typical of his buildings, the whole is contained within even the most minute details and elements. Wright's focus on visual harmony and spatial continuity is beautifully seen in the Little house; each side of the living room was composed of windows, letting in ample light and views of the lake, while also unifying the interior and the exterior as one organic space. This is emphasized by Wright's use of rich oak throughout the interior, its furnishings, and the doors seen here.
The leaded designs on the glass windows and doors of the Little house strayed a bit from Wright's usual intricate style; in a letter from Mr. Little during construction, he complained to Wright that the window designs he had proposed were "stiff, formal and complicated," blocking too much of the view. Wright simplified the design, pushing the motif to the outer perimeter of the windows so that more light would come through. The final effect is one that is just as exuberant as Wright's more fanciful designs, but is contained within a more measured execution, which undoubtedly added to the calm and serenity that many visitors to the room noted that it inspired. Within the design though, one still sees Wright pushing back just a bit, adding a little square of red in the some of the corners. The leaded designs are also electroplated with copper, adding reddish hues and a deeper dimension of warmth to harmonize with the rest of the home.
As is the case with many of Frank Lloyd Wright's greatest works, the Francis W. Little house was destroyed in 1972, with elements of the home going to the Allentown Art Museum, The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, and, most notably, the living room was purchased by and re-installed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Below is a video tour of the room, as it is presented at the museum today.