Edward H. Cheney House (1903)
520 North East Avenue

Wright's design of this residence for electrical engineer Edwin Cheney is a superb brick house with the living and sleeping rooms all on one floor under a single hipped roof (reminiscent of the design Heurtley House.) here, however, there is a less monumental and more intimate quality to the house partly because it is not raised a full story off the ground, and partly because of the way its windows are nestled in between the wide eaves of the roof and the substantial stone sill that girdles the house.

East view from Forest Avenue
The living rooms, which take up the entire front of the house and open onto the walled terrace at the center, are beautifully trimmed in fir. Together they form a single longitudinal space under a continuous ceiling carried up in the form of a hip roof, the whole subdivided into dining room, living room, and library by wooden posts and cabinets.

Northeast view from Forest Avenue
It was this commission that precipitated the celebrated love affair between Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney, the climax of which occurred in 1909 when Wright abanadoned his architectural practice and left with Mrs. Cheney for a year in Europe. This era of Wright's life ended tragically in 1914 when Mrs. Cheney and her children were murdered at Taliesin by an insane servant.

The above commentary was excerpted from Guide to Frank Lloyd Wright & Prarire School Architecture in Oak Park by Paul E. Sprague (published 1986). The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust Book Catalog offers a selection of guidebooks which can be ordered online.

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Copyright © 1996-2001 Steven Hurder, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED