Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wrightian elements in the Charnley-Persky House

Louis H. Sullivan, co-principal of the firm Adler and Sullivan, in 1891 designed the Charnley-Persky House in Chicago. At the same time, twenty-four-year-old Frank Lloyd Wright was the firm’s chief draftsman and for the Charnley House project he designed many of the details (with Sullivan’s approval) including the decorative ornamentation. Indeed the decoration in the Charnley House was a design objective.

One of the first details upon entering the house on the inside of the vestibule door is the beautifully stylized representation of oak leaf flora that is constrained within triangular frames. The triangular pattern is echoed in the main staircase. As one ascends the staircase the elongated vertical canes suggest the forms of Wright’s weed holders that are associated with his Oak Park period. On the stair post is the natural oak leaf motif within the patterns of a circular frame that’s framed by the square. This frame within a frame emblem would be associated with Wright’s Prairie style.

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