Weekend at Westcott

Little did I know about the impact Springfield, Ohio had on the agricultural history of our country. It was where International Harvester was founded around the turn of the century and often battled Chicago as thee number one producer of agricultural implements. That boom resulted of course from the inclusion of Old National Road (RT. 40) passing directly through Clark County onto Richmond, Indiana, and a crossroads toward Chicago. So, as I discovered on my recent trip to Springfield, it was once home to some very wealthy men in the early 1900s. One of them was Burton Westcott, who traveled from his birthplace of Richmond, to start the Westcott Motor Car Company in Springfield.

What was most significant about his life however, was his decision to have Frank Lloyd Wright design a home for his family in the center of the (at the time) extremely progressive city. Westcott House was built in 1908 and remains to this day Wright’s only prairie style house in Ohio. While there’s a certain amount of modesty in Wright’s design for Westcott in terms of the use of space and the home’s exterior, he did not spare an ounce of detail when it came to the intricacies and Japanese influence that accompanies the interior – right down to the furniture that would fill the rooms and the type of stone used to make the fireplace.

Touring the home, which was restored after years of decay in 2001, was a great way to spend a Saturday with the family. I felt like a Sunday driver going beyond mere museums, but came out completely obsessed with finding as many Wright homes as I can see in my lifetime. I could go on about the various rooms, nooks and crannies or anecdotes about the Westcott family in the home, but Phyllis, our tour guide, is unparalleled in her knowledge of the house. I would highly recommend a visit in the near future, at least in time to see it when the flowers are still in bloom.

Our trip was so rewarding that we went on a hunt for a building FLW designed in Dayton, not too far down the road. While it’s been hard to find any info on the Kenneth Meyers Medical Center (now a clinic for plastic surgery) and even if it was somewhat underwhelming (especially after our visit to Westcott) it still was a structure that was accented by the environment around it, it still had a distinctive modern stamp that was all Wright, and if above all else, it still is an alternative to what we consider “normal” architecture – not a triumph in his career, sure, but nice to look at.

And of course, no leisurely weekend would be complete without a visit to Greenville -- Annie Oakley Days (another story, another time) -- and the Maid-Rite gum wall. Right?

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