Francisco Terrace by Frank Lloyd Wright 1895

While cleaning out some of my bookshelves I came across The Life and Works of Frank Lloyd Wright -Thomas A. Heinz (ISBN 1-58663-765-7) It was page 286 that caught my attention.

Francisco Terrace; “Wright was as innovative in his designs for low-cost housing as he was for expensive estates intended for the wealthy. At Francisco Terrace, he kept the bedrooms separate form the other parts of the more public ares of the building.The main entry to the courtyard was through a large, terracotta arch embellished with foliated Sullivanesque ornamentation highlighting the name of the building.”

it was one of  three buildings Wright’s studio in Oak Park designed in 1895. Included was also the Waller Apartments just west of the Terrace building and two other residences- both in Oak Park. This was just two years after he was fired by Sulliavan for working on his “boot leg” houses. More here


I liked the design shown above,. It was, simple, clean, modern and elegant. The classic Sullivanian arch draws your attention to the entry beautifully. A refined and interesting composition..  I liked the articulation at the windows and really masterful brick and lentil designs. What happened I wondered? A little search of the address and Google earth provided the following images…it was demolished in 1974 and what replaced it?

Yep- a parking lot. An empty one at that, go figure.

With only a front elevation remaining on line for posterity,  I wonder about the plan- the court yard, the spaces created. Wright was a master of creating space not rooms…

This is why I work to persevere when I can. The powers pressing to demolish outdated or our of style buildings are seldom wise or aware that once it’s gone it might not be replaced by something better.  Materials methods and means of construction change over time, but not always for the better. Skill, craftsmanship and the quality of materials are not keeping up with the demands for improvements. The pressures of the immediate concerns of individuals oft outweigh the important consideration of the greater value to the planet or the culture.  Another good one is gone a good reminder of the words of Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc  (1817-1879)

” It is better to maintain than to repair, better to repair than restore, better to restore than re-build”

But now you can enjoy the memory at least. The only preservation work left that could be done was to the 1974 photograph published between the pages of  286 and 287 of Heinz’s book. The scan and Photo-shopped image is above./The google earth shots of the current site below. The following text from the on line – Frank Lloyd Wright Trust. Note the building shown on the corner is another Wright Building that manged to survive just west of the magnificent empty parking lot. The Weller building for the same developer client that built the Terrance’s’ …

The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust provides the following:

Date: 1895
Address: 253 North Francisco Street, Chicago, IL
City: Chicago, IL
Category: Residential, multi-family apartment complex
Restoration Status: Demolished 1974. In 1977, the original entrance arch was reinstalled in apartment complex on Lake Street at Euclid Place in Oak Park.

Francisco Terrace was among several Wright designs commissioned by Edward C. Waller, a wealthy real estate speculator and close friend of William Winslow, another of Wright’s early patrons. Located on Chicago’s near West Side, the two-story structure served as low-income housing. Its apartments were compact but shared a capacious central courtyard. Stair towers at each corner of the building provided access to its second story and, from this level, a wooden balcony afforded views onto the natural enclosure at the building’s center. For the most part, the building comprised two-bedroom apartments with a sitting room, kitchen, and bathroom to each unit. A dramatic ornamental arch framed the building’s entrance. It was salvaged when the building was demolished in 1974, and subsequently reinstalled in an apartment complex in Oak Park.

Weller Apartment building by FLW. also- 1895 West of Site, Empty lot beyond is site of the Francisco Terrace building.