This compact house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1906 for his friend Robert Lamp is like an Easter egg in the heart of downtown Madison, Wisconsin; hard to find, but a sweet little reward if you can.
Many Madison residents are not even aware that there is a work by one of the 20th century’s greatest architects sitting right under their noses. The small, blocky home sits in the center of an urban block (one block from the State Capitol), surrounded by older houses and becoming even more obscured by increasingly dense development around it. Much of the development that goes on around the home is met with resistance from the community, but so far nothing has been stopped and no plans have yet surfaced to destroy the Lamp house either.
The house has hallmarks of Wright’s Prairie School style, and is recognizable as something different among the other surrounding buildings. In fact the floor plan was essentially a dry run for Wright’s famous guide to building, A Fireproof House for $5000.
While the angular design of the home is rather indelible, the condition of the house is less than perfect, as one might expect from a home without a tenant. However even despite the sad condition of the estate, it remains an important if largely unknown bit of architectural history.
Know Before You Go
Walk from the State Capitol one block up E. Washington Ave., turn left onto N. Webster St. The house is in the center of the block that will be on your right, but you won't be able to see it from there. Walk toward E. Mifflin St. and turn right. You'll catch views of it between the houses on Mifflin St. Walk another block to N. Butler St. The house is best approached from N. Butler St. where it has its own narrow access path pinched between two other houses. The house is privately owned and rented to residential tenants (as of early 2015). Walk up the path at your own risk to get a closer view of the house, knowing that it is private property.