Western Reserve Historical Society acquires Frank Lloyd Wright House Drawings

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  • Courtesy of WRHS
  • The house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in North Madison.

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

Owners Susan and Jack Turben donated original drawings, photographs, and other material documenting the design, construction, and history of the house, which is one of ten homes known to Wright in Ohio. 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 of magazines preserved by the Staleys, and because it is a prime example of Wright’s ‘Usonian’ style architecture, ”said Wendy Naylor , WRHS board member and director of Naylor Wellman, LLC., the company that prepared the nomination to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014, in a statement.

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

“WRHS is grateful to Susan and Jack Turben for entrusting WRHS with this incredibly important collection,” said Kelly Falcone-Hall, President and CEO of WRHS. “The Mr. and Mrs. Karl A. Staley House Collection adds to WRHS’s rich architectural collection. which includes the Walker and Weeks Collection, Cleveland’s largest architectural firm in the 1920s. The WRHS Staley Collection gives art and architecture students 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 of preserving 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 donated the home to University School, Jack Turbens’ alma mater, in a life estate. In the meantime, the house is available to the university school for art classes, workshops and small gatherings.

“It fulfills our dream of placing our house and designs under the direction of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, University School and Western Reserve Historical Society, as well as listing on the National Register of Historic Places – a partnership perfect, ”said Jack Turben in a statement.

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