Wright and Sullivan in St. Louis

On, Thursday, June 23, the Dana-Thomas House Foundation will explore three architectural treasures in St. Louis; the Theodore A. Pappas House, The Russell Kraus House and the City Museum.

The Pappas House is a Frank Lloyd Wright designed Usonian house, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, when it was only 15 years old. The entire body of the Pappas House, including the roof, is made up of plain concrete blocks standardized to a module. These blocks were placed on top of and next to one another with no mortar. The hidden sides of each block had hollows through which steel rods were inserted, running vertically and horizontally, creating a “knit” effect. Grout was used to fill the hollows after the rods were in place. Theoretically, all elements of the house could be manufactured and sent to the owners as a sort of “do-it-yourself” kit, the “automatic” aspect of an Usonian Automatic. However, metal molds for the blocks were not available, and the blocks had to be cast in molds created by a local craftsman. The concrete was pretinted according to Wright’s idea that color should be in and not on the surface. The color scheme throughout the house is monochromatic, a warm natural, earthen color, complemented by unstained Philippine mahogany trim and built in furniture.

Nestled in grassy fields on 10.5 acres in Kirkwood, Missouri, the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park is a unique and significant residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, widely recognized as the greatest American architect of the 20th century. The 1,900-square-foot residence built for Russell and Ruth Kraus was the architect’s first building in the St. Louis area, and is one of only five Wright designs in Missouri. It is an excellent example of Wright’s democratic vision, intended to provide middle-class Americans with beautiful architecture at an affordable cost.

The City Museum acquired a many of its Sullivan pieces from Architectural Artifacts, an antiques store in Chicago, located near the Ravenswood rail line. The owner wanted to make sure the collection stayed together. Those purchases included terra-cotta pieces from Carson Pirie Scott, the Garrick Theater, and the Stock Exchange. While the City Museum doesn’t have the world’s largest collection of work by Sullivan—that honor goes to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville—it does have some of the largest assemblies of the architect’s work on display, including the Garrick and Stock Exchange cornices.

Space is limited, $225.00 per person. Includes round trip transportation from Springfield, IL, all tour admissions and lunch on “The Hill,” the popular Italian-American neighborhood famous for its Italian markets and restaurants where even the fire hydrants are painted red, white and green!

  • June 22, 2022
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