A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to serve as a docent at the Laurent House, a serene and gracefulFrank Lloyd Wright-designed home in Rockford, Illinois.
I’m writing today for two reasons: 1) to help spread the word that a very nice FLW building is now a museum and open for tours after sixty years as a private residence, and 2) to encourage anyone who gets an opportunity to be a docent to take that opportunity. You’ll be glad you did.
A little about the Laurents and their house:
- The Laurents were married in 1941. Mr. Laurent served in WWII, and later had a spinal cord tumor that left him a paraplegic in 1946. Mr. Laurent was frustrated by the barriers (stairways, narrow doorways, etc) in conventional buildings which prevented him from being independent. Mrs Laurent saw an article in House Beautiful Magazine about Wright’s Pope house in Virginia, and thought that Wright’s open plan style would suit the needs of her wheelchair-bound husband. They approached Wright in 1948, and asked him to design a house for a wheelchair bound person. The Laurents lIved in, and raised two children, in this house from 1952 to 2012. They were very aware of the importance of this house as a work of art, took good care of it, and wanted it preserved.
- The House is about 2600 square feet on a single level, and sits on a beautiful 1.3 acre wooded lot. It’s one of Wright’s Usonian houses with lots of built-in furniture to reduce the clutter of daily life. The house has an open plan and many features to accommodate the wheelchair-bound Mr. Laurent. The original two-bedroom one-bathroom house was completed in 1952. An additional bedroom, bathroom, and dining room, also designed by Wright and his staff, were completed by about 1960. Everything is custom in this house. It’s totally unlike conventional houses of the period. Furnishings are the Laurent’s furnishings, mostly designed by Wright.
Want to learn more about the Laurent House? Interested in traveling to Rockford to see it? Go to www.laurenthouse.com. Here’s a screen shot of the Laurent House website.