Here are some other Frank Lloyd Wright buildings open to the public that are within a reasonable driving distance from Wichita.
Wright designed several skyscrapers during his career, but Price Tower in downtown Bartlesville is the only one that was built. The 221-foot-tall, 19-story tower opened in 1956 as headquarters for the H.C. Price Co., one of the world’s largest pipeline contractors, and today contains a boutique hotel with 19 rooms on the upper floors, a bar and restaurant, an arts center and architecture, art and design exhibits in ground-floor galleries.
Guided tours take you to floors you won’t otherwise see. The tours are well worth regular admission prices ($10-$15) but will be just $1.50 per person June 8-10 in honor of Wright’s 150th birthday.
There will be four tour times on Thursday and Friday, and on Saturday, tours will be offered every 30 minutes from 1 to 4 p.m. Tours explore the interior and exterior of the building, including an elevator ride to 1956: Floors 17 to 19 have been restored to their 1956 appearance and include a corporate apartment, the company’s conference room and the penthouse executive offices, all fully furnished with Wright’s midcentury modern interiors.
Reservations are recommended (918-336-4949 or pricetower.org). The tour ticket includes admission to the gallery, where a new temporary exhibit runs through Aug. 27. “Frank Lloyd Wright Journey to the Prairie” offers a timeline of his life and a glimpse into his imagination and inspirations, including the 25 years he worked to fulfill one of his lifelong dreams of completing one of his skyscraper concepts.
The Bachman-Wilson House is an example of Wright’s “usonian” architecture (the term is said to be derived from the abbreviation of United States of North America). He coined the term to describe the residential architecture style he developed during the Depression to offer housing within the reach of the average middle-class American family. The house was built in 1956 and is completely restored. It was moved from its original site in New Jersey because of repeated flooding. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art acquired the house in 2013, deconstructed the house to transport it and reconstructed it in 2015 on museum grounds. Self-guided tours are free, but a ticket is required. The house is open daily except Tuesdays, and tickets can be reserved by phone (479-657-2335), online (crystalbridges.org) or at guest services in the main lobby. A free audio tour is also available. One-hour guided tours are $10 per person (ages 18 and under are admitted free) and are offered several times daily, five days a week (no tours on Tuesdays or Fridays). Admission to Crystal Bridges is free; however, some temporary exhibits have an entry free; the cost of a Bachman-Wilson House guided tour can be applied to temporary exhibition admission.
Crystal Bridges is organizing several free events on Thursday to celebrate Wright’s birthday: a family event with live music, art making, creative play and birthday cake and a session with storyteller Timothy Totten, who has studied the life and work of Wright for more than 25 years.
Kansas City, Mo.
Community Christian Church, just off the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, commissioned Wright in 1940 to design its new building after a fire destroyed the original building. The city said his first design was too radical to meet building code; a redesign of the foundation allowed construction to begin. The building was dedicated in January 1942 with prominent features including a 1,200-seat auditorium sloping to a platform, as in a theater, and a heating/cooling system of water pipes embedded in the concrete floor. Wright’s design called for a light feature, which wasn’t incorporated until 1994, with four spires projecting 60,000 watts of light to create a Steeple of Light that can be seen for miles each weekend night.
Walk-in, self-guided tours are allowed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays (sometimes the building is locked from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch). The building also is open Sunday mornings for services. For a guided tour, call the church office at 816-561-6531.
Mason City, Iowa
Iowa has a dozen Wright-designed structures, including three that are open to the public: Historic Park Inn Hotel and Stockman House in the north-central town of Mason City and Cedar Rock State Park near Independence, in the northeastern part of the state.
Six of Wright’s hotel designs were built during his lifetime, and Historic Park Inn Hotel is the only one still standing. It opened in 1910 as a multi-use structure: a 43-room European-style hotel, a bank and law offices. The hotel portion of the building deteriorated over the years, but after a lengthy restoration and rehabilitation project, it opened again in 2011 as a fully operational hotel with 27 rooms. Docent-led tours are offered Thursdays through Sundays. Cost is $5-$10; ages 12 and under are admitted free.
The hotel is the site of a free event celebrating Wright on June 11. From 3:30 to 7:30 p.m., there will be lectures by Totten, the storyteller and Wright expert; Kim Bixler, the author of “Growing Up in a Frank Lloyd Wright House”; and a panel discussion of homeowners, restoration architects and historical experts. A pizza dinner is available for $10 per person. Call 641-423-0689 for more information.
Six blocks from the hotel is the Stockman House, a Prairie School-style home built nearby in 1908 and relocated to its current location in 1989. It has operated as a museum for 25 years and is open seasonally with the adjacent Architectural Interpretive Center. Tours are offered daily during the summer; see stockmanhouse.org for a schedule. Admission is $2-$10 per person. In addition to touring the house, visitors learn about other Prairie School homes in the town’s historic district. The interpretive center is hosting a free birthday celebration program at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Thursday for all ages.
Near Independence, Iowa, Cedar Rock State Park was created in 1981 when the Walter family willed their dream home, Cedar Rock, to the Iowa Conservation Commission and the people of Iowa. The usonian-style residence lies on a limestone bluff overlooking the Wapsipinicon River and is considered to be one of Wright’s most complete designs: Besides the home’s architecture and interior furnishings, Wright also designed a boathouse, council fire and a formal entrance gate. The home includes a coveted signature tile that Wright put on about only 40 projects.
The Walter Residence and a visitor center are open to the public Memorial Day weekend into October, Thursdays through Sundays. Free guided tours of the house are available hourly from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations are suggested by calling 319-934-3572.
The Friends of Cedar Rock organization is celebrating the 150th birthday on June 10 during the annual Strawberry Moon Evening. The group requests a free-will donation, and visitors will have the chance to explore the rarely open maid’s quarters and the newly restored boathouse, in addition to the house and council fire.