A look at a master Architect-right in our backyard!
Just 15 minutes outside of Downtown Elgin, there stands a lone farmhouse. In the outer areas of Elgin, farmhouses aren’t out of the ordinary and are quite plentiful. However, this house isn’t just a farmhouse. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. If you are unfamiliar with Wright, he was a famous architect who established a style of building technique known as the Prairie school, whose sole desire was for an “organic architecture” in designs for homes and commercial buildings. Not many people know about the Frank Lloyd House that was designed for the Muirhead family in the 1950’s. Today, along with the staff at Elgin Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, I took a tour of the great architectural structure. Going up to the house, no one would know it was there. The Muirhead house is located (like most farmhouses) on a dirt and gravel road, that goes under a railroad track, and is hidden behind a wall of Earth and trees. Going further down the road you can see the typical red barn, corn silo, a waterfall, and then the reddish brown brick house sprawls across the lawn. Compared to the farm life backdrop, it seemed oddly out of place, but the Muirhead Farmhouse was built in thoughtful ways to suit the family of seven. As mentioned before Frank Lloyd Wright was a fore-runner of the Prairie style housing which is expressed by a single story, flat, long structure to resemble the Prairie as well as suit the simple beauty, comfort, and utility in an architectural structure without being inspired by past house styles. The Muirhead house is a perfect example of that. The home is still owned by the Muirhead family, the granddaughter of the original owners along with her husband and their two children currently reside there. The owner, Mike Petersdorf, married into the Muirhead family and gave us a history lesson of the house. The main question I wanted to be answered was how did the Muirhead family get Frank Lloyd Wright to design a farmhouse for them? Not even Mike knows how they got Wright to say yes, but the correspondence between Wright and Muirhead on what the family wanted for their home is still displayed at the house to this day. The layout of the house was a closed concept, complete with 13 doors, exposed brick, lots of natural lighting from rows of small windows to ceiling, to floor windows and his signature: mitering the glass on corners (two windows coming together seamlessly, not obstructing the view). Another Wright feature is the desire for the outdoors to be a part of your living areas. Every way you look, there will be a window, continuous lines leading your eyes to the next continuous line. The structure of the house is basically two long hallways with rooms that seem to leap into life when you walk into them. The rooms are rather small, but the mind gets tricked into thinking the rooms are bigger with the leading lines and windows. A few features I loved about the house were the in-ground heaters they built for the floors. The floors are constructed of cement and can only imagine how frigid that would be in the winter without the heating. Next, I loved the amount of fireplaces placed throughout the home. Wright believed that the heart of any home was the fireplace, and there are four fireplaces throughout Muirhead. The Muirhead house is a beautiful home that accepts tours for individuals and groups alike, grab some friends and get your tickets for an amazing house!
Hey there! My name is Sarah, and I am the Tourism Promoter and Events Coordinator for the Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (it’s a mouthful, I know). I’m a newbie to the Elgin area so I will be telling you first-hand accounts of events and attractions found in Elgin, through my eyes! I’ll share my adventures through videos, photography, and words.