POLYMATH PARK: PART TWO
Four historic homes designed and/or influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright
Story and photographs by Nicholas Tindall
DUNCAN HOUSE (1957)
“Originally built in Lisle, Illinois in 1957, the Duncan House has been rebuilt and preserved at Polymath Park.” – Polymath Park brochure
“Did you know?” asked our tour guide Beverly. “Frank Lloyd Wright invented the word ‘carport’. He didn’t want any foreign elements to detract from the design presentation, or impression when seeing the outside of the house.”
No, we honestly had no idea. Pretty cool little footnote of Americana. On that note, let’s continue the tour…
Believe it or not, the Duncan House was offered as a prefab home to Americans in the 1950’s. It was advertised as being more stylish, functional and affordable than your average new home. It would have cost around $40,000, about 20% less than a comparable Sears model, at the time.
The Duncan House was moved and restored at Polymath Park in 2007.
Large, open fireplace creates a strong foundation for the interior of the home. Natural shades and rough textures juxtapose the smooth, clean, colorful interior surfaces.
Art-deco inspired, one-of-a-kind ventilation cover.
A 1960's era Herman Miller chair.
FLW was the very first architect and designer to utilize cork tile flooring, which is sustainable and naturally anti-bacterial. Pickled mahogany cabinets are stylish AND bug-resistant.
Countertops utilized economical linoleum and add contemporary color to the space.
Described by our tour guide Beverly, as being “the first-ever Alexa”.
Now for a few fabrics designed by the man himself.
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT DESIGNED FABRICS
BALTER HOUSE (1964)
Last one! Actually, there’s another—the Blum House—but we didn’t have time to visit that one.
“Designed by Wright apprentice, Peter Berndtson, The Balter House is a true inspiration. Privately nestled in a a gorgeous wooded setting, this remarkable four-bedroom home offers an unforgettable lodging experience.” – Polymath Park brochure
One of the most unusual features you can see before you even step thru the door. The roof is made up of stones (!) held in place by a thick (hidden) layer of tar. It’s been that way since 1965, and shows no signs of wear, tear or replacing. Maybe in a couple hundred more years?! Pretty impressive.
Although not designed by FLW himself, this Peter Berndtson creation features a typical FLW hallmark--the intentionally underwhelming entrance. While the result is positively non-pretentious, it sets you up for an exciting experience inside the home. Admittedly, this property was the most difficult to photograph, so admittedly the pictures don’t do it justice.
Backyard panoramic view.
Question. Was Frank Lloyd Wright ahead of the times? Back then, certainly yes. Now? Yes, he still is. What do you think?
There is so much more to learn about these properties—what’s detailed here is just a small portion of all we actually learned. Plan a visit to Polymath Park and discover for yourselves—it’s like going back to the future.