Rent-a-Wright: High Architecture That Anyone Can Enjoy (for a Price) - Atlas Obscura
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Rent-a-Wright: High Architecture That Anyone Can Enjoy (for a Price)


Inside the Park Inn Hotel (photograph by Dan Hatton on Flickr)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings are prized, celebrated, and priceless works of architecture. While some Wright houses and buildings can be visited and toured, there are a few scattered across the United States that can also be rented. In these “Rent-A-Wrights” one can enjoy his design principles while cooking dinner, watching TV, doing laundry, or even drinking beer in a backyard created by one of the most gifted architects of the 20th century. The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy lists 14 Wright buildings that are available for overnight stays, with 12 of them having working websites with rates and other information.  While these buildings are all interesting in their own way, four of these have particularly unique stories.

 

THE DUNCAN HOUSE
Acme, Pennsylvania

One of Wright’s pre-fabricated designs, the Duncan House was originally built in 1957 in Lisle, Illinois, but was due to be demolished for a McMansion development. A Johnstown-area construction firm along with help from the Conservancy had the house dismantled, cataloged piece by piece, and reconstructed in western Pennsylvania. This house contains many hallmarks of Wright’s Usonian style, such as a carport instead of a garage, natural lighting, and the color Cherokee Red. The house also features a basement, which is rare in a Wright house.

The house is on the grounds of Polymath Park and Resort, along with three other houses designed by two of Wright’s apprentices, Peter Berndtson and John Rattenbury. Tours visit all of these houses, and the resort is within an hour’s driving distance of Wright’s masterpiece, Fallingwater, and the not-to-be-overlooked Kentuck Knob.

Parallel lines surround the Duncan House (photograph by the author)


Usonian houses had carports (photograph by Sara Hoffman on Flickr)


Most Wright houses do not have basements but the Duncan House does (photograph by the author)

 

THE INN AT PRICE TOWER
Bartlesville, Oklahoma

The only Wright-designed skyscraper constructed and recently nominated for becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wright said that the 19-story Price Tower was “the tree that escaped the crowded forest,” as it was built in a small city in the eastern Oklahoma prairie instead of its planned location in Manhattan, and the cantilevered floors not only radiate from a central shaft with the elevators, but are asymmetrical so that the tower looks different from each angle. The top floors of Price Tower were turned into an inn with 19 rooms in 2003, and the tower also contains an arts center and a restaurant.

The Price Tower (photograph by Jessica Lamirand on Flickr)


Inn at Price Tower Room (photograph by dennyschmickle on Flickr)

 

PARK INN HOTEL
Mason City, Iowa

Out of six hotels that Wright built, this is the last of his hotels that still stands. The prairie-style Park Inn Hotel is adjoined to one of two surviving Wright-designed bank buildings, namely the City National Bank. The hotel has 27 rooms available for rent. Park Inn was Wright’s prototype for the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo and the Midway Gardens entertainment facility in Chicago. The hotel was completely renovated and restored in 2011 for its centennial. 


Park Inn Hotel (photograph by elisabethdunbar on Flickr)

 

LOUIS PENFIELD HOUSE
Willoughby Hills, Ohio

Wright was fond of saying “Anybody over six feet tall (1.82 m) is a weed.” When the 6’ 8” tall (2 m) Louis Penfield asked Wright to design a house for him, Wright said “Yes, but we’ll have to design a machine to tip you sideways first.” Mr. Penfield’s stature led Wright to a different design of this house, one with very tall windows, doors and ceiling height compared to most other Usonians. Tours are not given, but up to five people can rent the entire house for a minimum of two nights for one rate.

Louis Penfield House (photograph by John Orlando on Flickr)


Tall Ribbon Windows (photograph by drsam on Flickr)

 

These are only some of the 14 Frank Lloyd Wright buildings for rent across the United States, which includes other UsoniansPrairie style houses, and even a ranch in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana.