Susan Lawrence Dana House

AJ Belongia

Chester, VA, United States

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Artist's Description

The Dana House (built 1902-04) is an expression of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style. Located along East Lawrence Avenue in Springfield, Illinois, USA, for patron Susan Lawrence Dana, the town house reflects the mutual affection of the patron and the architect for organic architecture, the relatively flat landscape of the U.S. state of Illinois, and the Japanese aesthetic as expressed in Japanese prints.

In 1902, Susan Lawrence Dana (1862-1946) was an independent woman and heiress to a substantial fortune, including silver mines in the Rocky Mountains. Widowed in 1900, Dana enjoyed complete control over her household and fortune. Eager to express her personality and to become the leading hostess in Springfield, Dana decided to completely remodel her family’s Italianate mansion located in the state capital’s fashionable “Aristocracy Hill” neighborhood.

Susan Lawrence Dana’s search for an architect to match her aspirations ended when she was introduced to Frank Lloyd Wright, the rising leader of a new movement in architecture.

Susan Lawrence Dana’s 1902 commission to Wright to plan the “remodeling” of the Lawrence’s Victorian mansion was the largest commission that Wright had enjoyed up to that time. The architect, who recognized a kindred spirit in Mrs. Dana, expanded the boundaries of his commission to design and build what was, in effect, an entirely new house.

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency took control of the mansion in 1985 and led a restoration effort in 1987-1990 that refitted the house to its appearance in 1910. It is believed to contain one of the most intact Frank Lloyd Wright architectural interiors in the United States.

The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974.

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