Frank Lloyd Wright-Designed Buildings You Can Tour in the Midwest

Genius. Murders. Affairs. No architect packed more drama into a lifetime than Frank Lloyd Wright, who left a thousand stories in a collection of Midwest homes and other structures. More than two dozen are open for tours.

Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin
Taliesin. Photo: Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux

Wisconsin-born Frank Lloyd Wright left behind a legacy of about 500 structures, a good portion of which still stand in the Midwest. Many of Wright's homes remain privately owned, but other places—including former residences as well as commercial buildings—are open for tours. Visitors marvel at his signature Prairie School and Usonian architectural styles. But there's more than just architecture if you look behind the scenes. You might hear stories of murder, affairs and Wright's larger-than-life ego—insightful glimpses into the man who was as one-of-a-kind as the buildings he crafted.

Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Oak Park, Illinois
Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio. Courtesy of Illinois Office of Tourism

Oak Park Home and Studio, Oak Park, Illinois

Because of Wright's physical legacy here, the town of Oak Park claims fame as the birthplace of Prairie School architecture, which aims to create harmony between a building and its natural surroundings. Wright's 1889 home contains early evidence of the style, including his experiments with ribbons of windows. One element you won't find in any of his other buildings: the two-story children's playroom with vaulted ceilings and a skylight that causes sunlight to dance across the oak floor.

Multiple tour options are available through the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, including guided tours of the home and tours that combine the Oak Park Home and Studio with other signature Wright-designed properties in the area, such as The Rookery downtown, the Frederick C. Robie House and Unity Temple. Seasonal bike tours cover 21 Wright-designed structures. The seven-hour Wright Around Chicago tour visits some of the Windy City's most famous Wright buildings; held seasonally Tuesdays and Thursdays from June through October.

Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin. Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux

Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin

Wright's estate in Spring Green dates to 1911 and embodies the Prairie style of architecture, with native yellow limestone and cypress wood topped by slanted roofs to resemble the slope of the surrounding hills.

Taliesin also reflects the drama of Wright's life: Fires twice consumed the residence on this 800-acre estate: one caused by an electrical problem and the other by a disgruntled employee who set the house ablaze, killing Wright's mistress and six others. But the third iteration still stands. Overlooking the Wyoming Valley, the orientation of the 37,000-square-foot home results in sun streaming into every room at various points of the day. Wright lived and worked here for 48 years while experimenting with design principles in the Hillside Studio, where a group of architecture students carried on his work for years.

Guides lead a variety of tours between April and November. We recommend the two-hour Highlights Tour, covering the home and studio, plus exteriors of the cathedral-like Midway Barn and 1896 Romeo and Juliet Windmill (the oldest Wright structure in Wisconsin).

Cedar Rock State Park exterior
Courtesy of Cedar Rock State Park

Cedar Rock State Park, Iowa

This 426-acre park in northeast Iowa centers around a Frank Lloyd Wright residence and estate built for Lowell and Agnes Walter, who moved into the home in 1950. The Usonian house, created from brick, glass and concrete, has been open to the public since 1982. The Wright-designed or -selected furniture, carpet, draperies and accessories makes this one of Wright's most complete designs.

The home sits on a limestone bluff above the Wapsipinicon River. The boathouse (one of the only boathouses that Wright designed) affords a lovely view of the river. Open mid-May to mid-October; suggested donation of $5 a person.

Iowa also is home to Wright's only surviving hotel, The Historic Park Inn Hotel in Mason City; if you're in Mason City, be sure to also visit Wright's Stockman House.

Dana-Thomas House, Springfield
Dana-Thomas House. Ryan Donnell

Dana-Thomas House, Springfield, Illinois

The 35-room house, designed by Wright in 1902 for progressive socialite Susan Lawrence Dana, contains the nation's largest collection of the architect's site-specific original art glass and furniture—including 250 art glass doors, windows and light panels, as well as 200 original light fixtures. One-hour tours are typically held four times daily. Reservations recommended; tours are free, but donations appreciated.

Meyer May House Grand Rapids
Meyer May House. Courtesy of Steelcase

Meyer May House, Grand Rapids, Michigan

The 1909 Meyer May House was designed for a prominent local clothier, Meyer S. May, and his wife Sophie. Changes over the years altered the house significantly; by the 1960s, the home had become a multi-unit rental. Steelcase Inc. purchased the home in 1985 and opened it to the public in 1987 after an extensive restoration that included removal of a 1922 addition, repair of more than 100 windows and skylights, and a re-creation of the landscape to its 1909 design. The 90-minute tour is free.

Also in Michigan, the 1941 Affleck House — now part of Lawrence Technology University in Southfield—was the first Wright-designed house in the Detroit metro area. Tours are usually available on Saturdays.

Samara, The John E. Christian House
Samara, The John E. Christian House. Courtesy Lee Lewellen/Indiana Landmarks

Samara, The John E. Christian House, Lafayette, Indiana

Reopened for regular tours in 2023 after a $2 million restoration, this house was once the home of Purdue University professor Dr. John Christian and his wife, Catherine. Samara (named for a winged dry fruit, such as an elm or ash tree produces) was finished in 1956, near the end of Wright's career. The Usonian home—a type of home that was generally smaller and had less ornamentation than a Prairie-style structure—was built on a 4-by-4-foot grid system, a geometrical method that influenced the exterior as well as interior spaces.

Weltzheimer/Johnson house in Oberlin Ohio
Courtesy of Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College

Weltzeimer/Johnson House, Oberlin, Ohio

Ohio's first Usonian home—designed in 1947, completed in 1949 and bequeathed to Oberlin College in 1992—is open the first Sunday of each month from noon to 5 p.m., April to November. While in many ways a typical Usonian, the house also shows some unusual details such as the wooden ball ornaments on the cornice. Tour reservations recommended.

Also in Ohio, docent-guided tours take visitors through Springfield's Westcott House, designed by Wright in 1906 and built in 1908 for Burton J. Westcott and his wife Orpha. The home was converted into a multi-unit apartment building in the 1940s but renovated to its Wright origins in the early 2000s by the Westcott House Foundation.

Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park St. Louis Missouri
Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park. Courtesy of Andrew Pielage

The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park, Kirkwood, Missouri

This 1,900-square-foot house, designed in 1951 for Russell and Ruth Kraus, was Wright's first building in the St. Louis area and one of only five Wright designs in Missouri. One-hour guided tours detail the history, design and restoration of the Usonian home, which the original homeowners called a "little gem." Ruth Kraus died in 1992; Russell Kraus remained in the house until 2001, when he sold the house, the land and the Wright-designed furniture to a nonprofit, The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park.

Unitarian Meeting House, Madison, Wisconsin
Ginger Crichton

Unitarian Meeting House, Madison, Wisconsin

In the hall shape, lobby tile pattern, pew placement and other elements, triangular forms subtly speak to the Unitarians' philosophy of unity and equality. Wright draws eyes to the heavens with a swooping ceiling, which resembles, as he says, "the wings of a bird in flight." Guided tours are available most Sundays throughout the year and also weekdays April through October. Reservations required.

State Capitol and Monona Terrace
Monona Terrace and State Capitol. Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux

Monona Terrace, Madison, Wisconsin

With soaring arches and curvy forms, Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center sprawls out like a rounded buffer between Lake Monona and downtown Madison. Wright and the city struggled to agree on the building's function (he wanted a place for great minds to discuss pressing issues; the city wanted a transportation and governmental hub). In fact, 60 years passed between his design submission and the structure's completion (in 1997, 38 years after his death). A 2014 renovation includes touches honoring Wright's style, including leaf-pattern carpeting in his favorite autumn palette of reds, oranges, russets and golden tans.

Visit the free Beyond the Drawing Board exhibit to learn more about this project. Then head to the rooftop Lake Vista Cafe to toast Wright's efforts with crab cakes and beer. Guided tours of the building ($5) are also available on select days and times.

Wingspread, Racine, Wisconsin
Wingspread. Kevin J. Miyazaki/Redux

Wingspread, Racine, Wisconsin

Imaginations soar effortlessly on a tour of the Wright-designed Wingspread. One by one, visitors walk up a tightly coiled spiral staircase and pop their head into a glass-enclosed lookout. They see the rolling and woodsy Racine property, but Wright designed the crow's nest so that the son of SC Johnson president H.F. Johnson could watch his dad fly over on his way home from his travels.

From the sky, the largest single-family home Wright designed looks like a four-bladed windmill. Long, narrow hallways extend from the two-story living room, warmed by a fireplace of Cherokee-red bricks (his favorite color). On an overnight stay, Wright awoke at 5 a.m. to haul all of the home's original furniture and artwork out of a storage room to replace the new accents and adornments that owner H.F. Johnson's wife had added. He was never invited back.

Tours are free but require advance reservations. After a short film about the history of the 1939 home and the tense relationship between Wright and Johnson, visitors can explore the gardens and home.

Frank Lloyd Wright-designed SC Johnson Administration Building
Great Workroom, SC Johnson. Courtesy of SC Johnson

SC Johnson Administration Building and Research Tower, Racine, Wisconsin

Wright was reluctant to design two buildings on the SC Johnson campus downtown because he liked to set his work in nature. But he reached a compromise with the CEO by building nature indoors. A forest of dendriform (treelike) support columns steals the show in the Administration Building's Great Workroom. Windows and ceilings made from more than 43 miles of Pyrex glass tubing allow the sun to shine in while distorting the view of the industrial campus outside.

Free tours lead through a Willy Wonka-like world of underground hallways to the Administration Building and the 15-level Research Tower, where scientists developed products like Raid, Glade and Pledge. Check the website for tour dates.

Laurent House by Frank Lloyd Wright
Laurent House. Bob Stefko

Laurent House, Rockford, Illinois

This is the only wheelchair-accessible house Wright designed (for a WWII vet). Docent-led tours offer insight into the home as well as the lives of Kenneth Laurent, his wife, Phyllis, and their family. Tours offered Friday, Saturday and Sunday from April to the end of December. (For even more Wright sites in Illinois, check out the state's Frank Lloyd Wright Trail.)

Living room of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house in Wichita
Allen House. Courtesy of Visit Wichita

Frank Lloyd Wright's Allen House, Wichita, Kansas

Newspaper publisher Henry Allen and his wife, Elsie, commissioned this home from Wright in 1916. Completed in 1918—and since restored to its 1918 appearance—the house contains more than 30 pieces of Wright-designed furniture, its original art glass, and new-to-the-time innovations such as an attached garage. Visitor options include a 90-minute standard tour, three-hour grand tour and moonlight tour. Guides integrate the stories of Wright, the architecture of the home, and the Allen family.

Still Bend/The Bernard and Fern Schwartz House-Wisconsin
Courtesy of Still Bend/The Bernard and Fern Schwartz House

Bernard and Fern Schwartz House, Still Bend, Wisconsin

One-hour tours guide visitors through a 1939 property that Wright designed for the Schwartz family, based on an adapted Usonian design created for Life magazine. Special features include Wright-designed furniture and a second-story balcony overlooking the 65-foot-long recreation room. In addition to tours, overnight rentals and special events are welcome.

More Frank Lloyd Wright Sites

The Frank Lloyd Wright trust maintains a comprehensive list, organized by state, of all public Frank Lloyd Wright sites.

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