The good old days

When a copy editor made just under the median income and could afford to build a Frank Lloyd Wright house.

Nestled amid 10½ wooded acres on the outskirts of Kirkwood sits a little-known architectural gem designed by a well-known architect. As guests pass through the property’s red gate and across the brick home’s threshold, they are immersed in the epitome of modern architecture. It’s The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park (FLWHEP), and its roots run deep in St. Louis.

Built for artist Russell Kraus and his wife, Ruth, the architectural framework of the 1,900-square-foot house at 120 N. Ballas Road was finished in late 1955, but it would be another decade before its interior was complete. “Russell had long admired Wright’s designs, but did not think he [could] afford one of his houses,” says Jane King Hession, an architectural historian, writer and curator specializing in midcentury modernism. “After reading [a 1948] article in House Beautiful magazine, in which Loren Pope – a copy editor with a ‘salary on the shady side of $3,000’ – described his experience building a Wright-designed Usonian House, Russell was emboldened to write to Wright and request a house.” Five days later, Wright replied, “You shall have your nice little house.” The 10-year journey is detailed in Hession’s recently released book, The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park: The Kraus House, as well as more on Wright’s world-renowned, 70-plus-year career from 1867 to 1959 and how the Kraus house was saved.

(Ladue News)

 

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