My New Obsession: Prairie Style Architecture

One of the great pleasures of moving to Highland Park in Dallas has been the purchase and renovation of my family’s new home. We were fortunate enough to find a house built in the Prairie style in the 1920’s.  These are less common these days in HP as homeowners opt to tear them down to maximize lots or gain a more modern floor plan. This type of architecture, with its distinctive low-pitched hipped roofs, broad porches, and wide eaves, originated in the Midwest before migrating down to Texas.

Frank Lloyd Wright and a group of Chicago architects first championed the style, which emphasizes blending a house into it’s surroundings. Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style—typified in homes such as the Frank Thomas House and the Willits House—fit the very flat landscape of the American Midwest and is more extreme than what you generally find in Dallas. Here, Prairie style homes tend to be a little taller, with wide entryways punctuated by columns. Yet similar to those Midwest originals, the homes here often have stucco or brick exteriors, decorative windows, and horizontal banding.

This illustration, from the City of West Chicago, shows the typical elements of a classic Prairie style house:

The Frederic C. Robie House in Chicago is a classic example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style:

Built in 1918, this home in the Highland Park neighborhood of Dallas is a classic example of the Texan Prairie style:

Swiss Avenue has some of the best examples of Prairie-style architecture in Dallas. Here are a few images I recently shot in the historic district.

The renovation of my own home probably won’t be finished until next year. We’re taking special care in retaining the house’s original features, but of course adding my modern traditional vibe.  Here’s a sneak peek of the office:

This was taken just after the walls and trim were painted.  It shows the typical Prairie style windows with simple casings, and craftsman-style double hung windows with single paned glass at the bottom.  These windows have the original 1922 waved glass.

I’ll look forward to sharing more images from the house after we’ve finished the restoration!

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Image credits: 1. City of West Chicago; 2. Minimilisti; 3. Dave Perry-Miller; 4-8. Susan Bednar Long.

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by design and the subtle impact of our surroundings. Some of my earliest influences still resonate – I think of the dark woods and textured lodens of my father’s shooting club, the smell of fresh paint on a new canvas, and the bold symmetry of the Philip Johnson Glass house just down the street. For me, it was a natural path to become an Interior Designer. I love what I do. I’ve created this Journal to share my thoughts, finds and design inspirations. I hope you enjoy it!

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