Prairie style

10:08 AM / /

Prairie houses (1905-1915) may be viewed in a larger context as one type of Arts and Crafts ("Craftsman") style architecture.The prairie house is one of the few indigenous American styles. The name is key to the style. The stereotypical image of the Midwest prairie is that of a wide, flat, horizontal, treeless expanse that meets the horizon. To translate this scene into architecture, Wright designed a horizontal building that was low to the ground.
Wright himself claimed that the interior of the prairie house held the greatest significance. With his "open plan" (minimum number of separating walls on the first floor) he sought to "beat the box," to escape the Victorian compartmentalization which he claimed was stifling the American family. The archetypal vision of the Victorian home, with mother entertaining the ladies over tea in the parlor, the father smoking cigars in the study, and the children banished to the nursery upstairs, was Wright's nemesis. To avoid this subdivision of space, Wright did away with the conventional divisions between spaces on the lower floors of his prairie homes. Rather than setting rooms in the house apart in its space and function, he unified them into one common space (Martin House example).
The style originated in Chicago and landmark examples are concentrated in that city's early 20th-century suburbs, particularly Oak Park and River Forest.
Many of the architects in the Prairie School worked with Wright himself or with his earlier employer and teacher, Louis Sullivan. Others absorbed Wright's and Sullivan's influence simply by being in Chicago Among the most important were George W. Maher, Robert C. Spencer, Jr., Thomas E. Tallmadge, John S. Bergen, Vernon S. Watson, Charles E. White, Jr., Eben E. Roberts, Walter Burley Griffin, William Drummond, F. Barry Byrne, George E. Elmslie, and William G. Purcell.
The style in its vernacular form was spread throughout the country by pattern books published in the Midwest.
Buffalo boasts the Darwin Martin House - Wright's best Prairie House, as well as four others.


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