Butterfly Wood: Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie House West, Robert L. Ooley FAIA Author
120 pages, Paperback.
Robert L. Ooley FAIA Author
Erin Graffy ( Editor)
T.C. Boyle (Forward)
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) became a household name for architects worldwide before many architects thought it possible. Wright took full advantage of this by treating architecture as a product and not so much as a service. This recognition was largely due to his provocative architectural design and tremulous private life, both of which played well in the press at the time. Surprisingly, it still does, almost 60 years after his death. Butterfly Wood opens the door into one of the architect’s last commissions of his Prairie Style and is the only example of that time in his career on the west coast of the United States. Located in the secluded enclave of Montecito, California, at the corner of Hot Springs and Summit Roads is this 4,500-square-foot redwood treasure. While Wright often advocated that the Prairie House came from and is an expression of the prairies of the Midwest, here we find a perfect example of this building type that fits its landscape and blends into its surrounding as if meant to be there from the beginning of time. This story will weave together the family that wanted a coastal retreat from the hot California interior of the San Joaquin Valley, a world-renowned embattled architect, and the house they made together. “The enclosed space within is the reality of the building,” Wright exclaimed. In Butterfly Wood, we see this played out in the voluminous space of the living room with its expanse of glass that absorbs the eucalyptus grove situated around the house; or from the open air views of the sleeping porches on the second floor to the wraparound windows of the rooms on the west end of the building. We realize that it was Emily Stewart who loved the natural beauty of the site as its architect would and named the house Butterfly Wood after the multitudes of Monarch butterflies that roosted in the trees surrounding the house.