Westcott House1340 East High Street
Springfield, Ohio 45505-1166
937-327-9291 | www.westcotthouse.org
Midwest Modernism in an Ohio Legacy City
The Westcott House is the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in Ohio built in his signature Prairie Style (ca. 1890s – 1910). The story of the original commission, the Westcott family, and its heroic restoration reveals much about Springfield—a city with one of the most important architectural legacies in the Midwest.
Burton and Orpha Westcott commissioned the design for their new Springfield home in 1906. Burton Westcott (1868-1926) was a member of Springfield’s industrial leadership at a time when the city was one of the nation’s manufacturing powerhouses. He came from an Indiana family of carriage makers and in 1903 moved to Springfield as treasurer of the American Seeding Machine Company. Later he moved his family’s newly re-branded Westcott Motor Car Company to Springfield. His wife, Orpha (1877-1923), was independent-minded and active in the community. Orpha proved an equal match for Frank Lloyd Wright, ensuring that she got from the architect a design that was functional for her needs as a modern wife and mother.
Springfield’s surrounding prairies and gentle rolling hills were the ideal canvas for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style, while the Westcotts were typical of Wright’s early patrons: wealthy and progressive.
For Frank Lloyd Wright, a dwelling was meant to be a complete work of art. Ever aware of his own place in history, Wright himself wrote about his architecture, “this is the modern American opportunity.” Yet, Wright’s Prairie Style was richly informed by Japanese aesthetics. The Westcott House is among Wright’s most Japanese-inspired works. He had journeyed to the island nation in 1905. When he received the Westcott commission in 1906 he directed his new understanding of Japanese architecture into the design.
Sadly, both Burton and Orpha died at an early age. The Westcott Car Company, like many smaller, independent automobile manufacturers, could not compete with the likes of the Ford Motor Company. It was sold in 1925, a year before Burton’s death. The Westcott House changed hands and in the 1940s was converted into apartments, with interior walls carving up the space into individual units. Over time, the building deteriorated further and was threatened with demolition. In 2001, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and local supporters began the process of securing the building, initiating its $6 million restoration, and creating the Westcott House Foundation.
Notes for Travelers
As one of only two Ohio Frank Lloyd Wright houses open to the public, the Westcott House is a not-to-be-missed site for architecture lovers of all kinds. It is also one of the best places to discover Wright’s signature early style. Access to the Westcott House is by tour only. Ticket sales help support on-going preservation efforts. If you’re planning a trip to Springfield to see multiple sites, book your visit to the Westcott House in advance and arrange the rest of your visit around the approximately one-hour tour. Well-informed and engaging guides will introduce you to the story of the Westcotts, to Wright, and the distinctive features of the house, as well as its restoration. There is a particularly well-stocked giftshop that has a full line of Frank Lloyd Wright-related gifts and book titles. The house has limited handicap accessibility. To learn more about Springfield’s distinctive industrial and architectural heritage, and to see a vintage Westcott Motor Car, visit the Heritage Center at 117 South Fountain Ave. in downtown Springfield.
Additional ResourcesFrank Lloyd Wright's Westcott House in Springfield, Stephen Siek, 1978.
Wright in Ohio, Thomas R. Schiff, et. al., 2017.
Frank Lloyd Wright: Preservation, Design, and Adding to Iconic Buildings, Richard Longstreth, 2014.