Western Reserve Historical Society Acquires Frank Lloyd Wright House Drawings

click to enlarge The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house in North Madison. - Courtesy of WRHS
Courtesy of WRHS
The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house in North Madison.
Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) has just announced that it’s received a donation of a new architectural collection that documents the historic Mr. and Mrs. Karl A. Staley House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in North Madison, OH.

Owners Susan and Jack Turben donated original drawings, photographs and other materials documenting the design, construction and history of the house, which is one of only ten known in Ohio that Wright designed. The Turbens bought the 1950 home in 1983 from the original owners Mr. and Mrs. Karl A. Staley.

"[The house] is a gem because of its location on the shores of Lake Erie, the preservation down to the magazines kept by the Staleys and because it is an excellent example of Wright's 'Usonian' style architecture," says Wendy Naylor, WRHS Board Member and principal with Naylor Wellman, LLC., the firm that prepared the National Register of Historical Places nomination in 2014, in a statement.

Designed by Wright in 1951 at the height of the Usonian (or owner-built) movement, Mr. and Mrs. Staley built the home using indigenous and natural river stone approved by Wright from Mill Creek in Madison.

"WRHS is grateful to Susan and Jack Turben for entrusting WRHS with this incredibly significant collection,” says Kelly Falcone-Hall, President and CEO of WRHS. “The Mr. and Mrs. Karl A. Staley House Collection adds to WRHS's rich Architectural Collection that includes the Walker and Weeks Collection, the foremost architectural firm in Cleveland in the 1920s. The Staley Collection at WRHS gives students of art and architecture access to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, right in the heart of University Circle, Cleveland." 

The Turbens donated a preservation easement on the house to the Conservancy in 2014 with the vision to preserve the house in perpetuity, and the Conservancy recognized their “exemplary stewardship of the property” by honoring them in 2020 with its Wright Spirit Award. In 2019, the Turbens generously gifted the home to University School, Jack Turbens's alma mater, in a life estate. In the meantime, the home is available to University School for art classes, workshops and small gatherings.

"This completes our dream of putting our house and drawings under the stewardship of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, University School and the Western Reserve Historical Society along with listing on the National Register of Historic Places — a perfect partnership,"  says Jack Turben in a statement. 

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Jeff Niesel

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