Decades before the Americans With Disabilities Act, Frank Lloyd Wright designed an accessible home for a World War II veteran. Now Wright’s only home designed for a person with a disability will open to the public. Wright’s Kenneth & Phyllis Laurent House in Rockford, Illinois opens for tours on June 6, two days before what would have been its architect’s 147th birthday.
When Phyllis Laurent in 1948 urged her husband, who used a wheelchair, to contact Wright about designing a home for him, the architect reportedly responded, “Dear Laurent: We are interested but don’t guarantee costs. Who knows what they are today – ?”
The brick and cypress structure’s design is a celebrated example of Wright’s “Usonian” single-story homes. It features an overhang sheltering a carport and a “solar hemicycle” shape typical of the style.
The State of Illinois bought the house in 2012 and added it to the National Register of Historic Places. Wright himself referred to it as a “little gem.”
Several other Wright buildings have opened to the public lately, including the Emil Bach House in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, the SC Johnson Research Tower in Racine, Wisconsin, and the architect’s home studio in Oak Park, Illinois.