We’re familiar with Fallingwater. We’ve heard tales of Taliesin. But if you think you’ll never be able to experience Frank Lloyd Wright houses firsthand, that’s where you’re wrong. Thanks to preservation efforts and tech proliferation, you’re now able to rent your own little piece of the Prairie School progenitor’s legacy. To help you out, we’ve picked a few of our favorite spaces of geometric clarity from across the country that are just a click away. So go ahead—find your own inspiration within a legendary crossroad of design and nature. Destination: Usonia. Population: you.
WORDS: CORY PHARE
Nestled in 30 wooded acres of Lake County, Ohio, you’ll find one of Wright’s nine Buckeye State Usonian structures. Completed in 1955, the Willoughby Hills, Ohio residence sits next to a lot said to be the site for Wright’s final (unbuilt) residential project, the plans of which were literally left on his drawing board when he passed away. The bottleneck entry of the completed Penfield House explodes out into a panoramic view framed by floor-to-ceiling windows, while the floating staircase, supported by ceiling beams, effortlessly descends between stories. True to form, the clean lines created by red-stained wood and ochre walls continue the architect’s hallmark of understated interplay with the natural setting of tall timbers. Unusual for the architect, however, were the extended heights to accommodate the 6-feet-8-inch tall Louis Penfield, who contracted the project. When asked if he could design a house for someone of that stature, Wright paused, then responded, “Yes, but we’ll have to design a machine to tip you sideways first.” Whatever your elevation, we think the Penfield House has all the Wright stuff.
Photogenic from every angle, this late-era Wright was commissioned in 1950. Trees seem to encircle every room, and the cantilevered overhang complements geometric playfulness—there are no 90-degree corners to be found. The nearby Teahouse and Wright-designed furniture also dot the space and add to the ambiance of a truly legendary rental opportunity.
A serene Wisconsin lakeside stay, this concentrated cabin packs a lot into its teeny 880 square feet. The soaring roof frames the idyllic views to the west and south, and the grand chimney rises more than two stories. Narrow bedroom windows provide the right wash of light while maintaining privacy, and the living room boasts the only decorative element: plywood pine trees set into a narrow row of windows. The one-bedroom hideout comes with a pull-out couch, and reservations fill up quickly.
Built in 1915 in Chicago’s East Rogers Park neighborhood, the Emil Bach house brings modernity to the home of the Magnificent Mile. Geometrically cubic, the property is a cornerstone of his Prairie school design period and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Cozy up to the tiered brick fireplace or lounge in the second-floor study trundle bed. With this prime real estate across the street from Lake Michigan, it’s easy to make this Wright your own sweet home for a night.
With stonework reminiscent of Fallingwater and inspired by Taliesin, the Elam house in Austin, Minnesota, is one of the largest of the Usonian houses designed by Wright. Built in 1948, one of the property’s most striking elements is the cantilevered balcony, jutting out 10 feet and abutting the massive glass living room walls. Three floor-to-ceiling fireplaces turn up the heat across two separate living rooms. And make sure to take a peek at the Webster Electric Teletalk early intercom system.
This roundup of well-designed vacation rentals appeared in the summer issue of Modern In Denver! We’re bringing you a modern rental every day for the next 23 days. Check in daily to see them all!