The Westcott House is the first Frank Lloyd Wright house built in Ohio, and is the state's only Prairie Style house. It is not as well known as most of his other Prairie Style houses. In fact, until recently it was practically a secret. Most likely because it was extensively altered over the years. However, after five years of work at a cost of over $5 million, it has been fully restored to its original architectural state.

Designed in 1906 and built in 1907 to 1908, the 4,435 square foot six bedroom house was a commission by Burton J. Westcott, a civic leader and industrialist most remembered for bringing the Westcott Motor Car Company to Springfield in 1916.
The house faces south on a 3/4 acre corner lot at 1340 East High Street in Springfield, Ohio, on what was once known as "millionaire's row," populated with Victorian mansions. The house extends almost to the property line on both the east and west sides. It was one of the first homes in Springfield to have electricity.

Across Greenmount Avenue on the east side of the house is a cemetery, which looks like a large city park and contributes to the beauty of the site. Its neighbor to the west is a large house of quite different, but attractive design.

You can find great deals on hotels near the Westcott House at
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History and Alterations

Burton J. Westcott lived in the house with his wife Orpha and their two children. Oprha died in 1923 and Burton followed, dying in the house in 1926. His death was front page news in Springfield. The Westcotts' made the first significant change from Wright’s original plan by filling in the reflecting pond on the front patio and using it as a planter.

The house was owned by Springfield book merchant Roscoe Pierce from 1926 until his death in 1941. During his ownership, the sleeping porches on both sides of the second floor were enclosed and access to the small terrace off Mr. Westcott's room above the entryway were eliminated. He also added a room to the rear of the house.

The most dramatic change came when Eva Linton purchased the house in 1944. She divided the house into five one-bedroom apartments. She also moved another entire house onto the property’s north side that was originally used as a riding area for the Westcott children. As part of the division, new interior walls were added and doorways were cut into original walls.

During her ownership, all of the walls were painted many times, the trim was painted over (including all of the wall tile in one of the bathrooms), some original walls were covered with with drywall or paneling, the tile roof was replaced with asphalt shingles, a layer of concrete was poured over the original walkway under the pergola (hiding the original patterns), the pergola was enclosed and converted to a set of storage sheds, the original set of garage doors on the carriage house were filled in and replaced with a small modern door, and almost every piece of the original Wright-designed furniture was removed.
All of that was done on purpose. But there was structural deterioration as well. There was extensive termite damage in some of the major support beams. Wright’s use of poured concrete walls predated the use of rebar or steel mesh inside the walls, so the pergola wall, the exterior walls of the main house and carriage house, and the wall at the rear of the property deteriorated badly.

Wright designed the foundation and framing with insufficient support for the load carried by the front wall, and it bowed and sank, causing extensive damage to the windows on the first and second floor. Although Wright followed the common building practices of the time, it is believed that he made changes to his original design without making the corresponding changes to the structure.

Dorothy Snyder inherited the property in 1981 and her son Ken and his wife Sherri Snyder became resident managers in 1984. They bought it from her in 1988. Since the main house had tenants, the Snyders lived in the carriage house and worked hard to repair and maintain the property. In 1991 Ken died suddenly in a car accident. Sherri tried to keep the house from deteriorating and packed away fixtures, hoping to restoring everything eventually. She spent all of the money she could to maintain and restore the house. She had a contractor jacked up the sinking front wall and make other repairs to the foundation and support beams. In the end, she just didn't have the resources to keep fixing things as fast as they were falling apart.

Snyder sold the house in 2000 to the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy in Chicago to ensure its preservation. The newly-formed Westcott House Foundation purchased it for $300,000 the following year and began to restore the house and grounds. An extensive collection of pre-restoration photos can be found at Peter Beers' web site.
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The restoration of the property to its original 1908 state involved practically every square inch of the house. The support structure was rebuilt, including an expansion of the basement. The shingles were torn off and a tile roof to match the original was installed. All of the additions and dividing walls were removed and the original walls were repaired and refinished with encaustic according to Wright's plans. A geothermal heating and cooling system and new ventilation system were installed in such a way as to be completely hidden, and the electrical and plumbing were brought up to code. Fire and security systems were installed.
Most of the plans for the original furniture had been lost in the fire at Taliesen, but new furniture was built to match old photographs of the house. All of the art glass was restored or replaced with exact replicas. All of the landscaping was redone according to Wright's original plan, including the restoration of the front urns and those along the pergola, and the back yard gardens were redone. Far more detail about the restoration efforts and many photographs of the "before" and "during" state of the house can be found at the web sites of two of the major contractors, Durable Slate and Durable Restoration.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Westcott House first opened to the public as a museum in October, 2005.
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Books and Other Items

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