Term: Prairie School (architecture)
a style popular ca. 1895-1925, born in Chicago but whose influence soon spread to Wisconsin. Horizontal lines are the essence of Prairie School design, which emphasizes low, long, hipped or gable roofs, windows banded in horizontal ribbons, and emphatic belt course or shelf roofs between stories. Generally, wood, brick, and stucco were the materials used for Prairie School buildings. Two Chicago architectural firms, that of Adler and Sullivan and that of Joseph Lyman Silsbee, played important roles in the development of the radical new architecture. Interaction between three major personalities of the Prairie School began in Silsbee's office, where Frank Lloyd Wright, George Grant Elmslie, and George W. Maher were employed simultaneously in 1887. Wright moved to the office of Adler and Sullivan in 1888, before opening his own Oak Park Studio in 1895. Wright's Oak Park Studio, in operation until 1909, designed a number of buildings in Wisconsin. The earliest was the Romeo and Juliet Windmill in 1896, at what is now Taliesin. He built the nearby Hillside Home School building in 1902 and the Andrew Porter House in 1907. A cluster of Wright-designed houses dating from 1900 to 1905 still exists on the south shore of Delavan Lake, Walworth County, and in Madison, Wright's buildings include the 1904 Robert Lamp House (NRHP 1978), and the 1908 Eugene Gilmore "Airplane" House (NRHP 1973). The second firm directly influenced by Louis Sullivan was Purcell, Feick, and Elmslie, formed in 1909, and often considered the direct successor of Sullivan. The First National Bank in Rhinelander (1911) (NRHP 1973) and the Harold C. Bradley House (1914-1915) in Shorewood Hills are among their distinguished Prairie School designs. Many other Prairie School architects undertook commissions in Wisconsin, including Frank Francis Sullivan, Robert C. Spencer, George Maher, and Barry Byrne. Two native architects, Louis W. Claude and Edward F. Starck, set up practice in Madison in 1896 after working in Louis Sullivan's office. Their firm was responsible for the designs of over 40 libraries; these are primarily located in the Midwest and many are in the Prairie School manner. The firm also designed several public schools in the Prairie School manner, including the 1915 Lincoln School (NRHP 1980) in Madison. Alvan Small, another Wisconsin native practicing the Prairie School, worked in the Madison area. La Crosse native Percy Dwight Bentley was an exceptional Prairie School architect who never studied with any of the Chicago Prairie group. His Prairie School designs are concentrated in the La Crosse area. View more information elsewhere at wisconsinhistory.org
View pictures relating to architecture at Wisconsin Historical Images.
[Source: Cultural Resource Management in Wisconsin (Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1986).