Frank Lloyd Wright works in Minnesota

Posted on February 16, 2012 by peter bell

Lindholm service station- Cloquet, MN, 1956

Frank Lloyd Wright (or FLW) was born Frank Lincoln Wright in Richland Center, Wisconsin on June 8, 1867.  The son of an itinerant minister/music teacher (father, William Carey Wright) and a country schoolteacher (mother, Anna Lloyd Jones), FLW grew up in the Unitarian beliefs of his mother’s Welsh clan in the Spring Green, WI area.  When his father left at the age of 14, Frank changed his middle name to Lloyd to honor his mother’s family.  He went to high school in Madison, Wisconsin, and briefly attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for two semesters before dropping out.

FLW moved to Chicago in 1887, where there were a number of construction projects rebuilding from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and he found work in the offices of Joseph Silsbee.  Unhappy with his $8 a week paycheck, he worked there for only a year before leaving for the firm of Adler & Sullivan.

From 1888-1893, Wright was one of the lead draftsmen under famed architect Louis Sullivan.  He absorbed much of Sullivan’s style, and FLW would design many of the private residences of the prestigious clients.  This led to a series of “bootleg” houses- designs that FLW did on the side in violation of his contract with Adler & Sullivan.  He was dismissed/fired/quit and in 1893 opened his own firm.

Thomas Keys home- Rochester, MN, 1950

FLW’s signature style developed over time, but his underlying theme always manifested with the notion of organic architecture- the theory that human habitation should be in harmony with its surroundings.  While FLW’s specific designs evolved from an earlier Prairie School approach to the socially-minded Usonian style in his later years, his adherence to clean, flat lines and integration of sunlight, windows, dramatic roofs, landscaping and attention to interior space has made him an enduring icon, not only of American architecture, but of design in general.

Of the 400 structures that FLW built in his lifetime, 300 still stand today.  Twelve of them remain in the state of Minnesota.  These constructions exhibit an interesting cross-section of FLW’s career path- from earlier Prairie School styles (the Willey and Neils house in Mpls), to his prefabricated home collaborations with Marshall Erdman and Associates (James McBean and La Fond houses), to his Usonian-style homes, and also the only gas station FLW ever designed, the Lindholm service station in Cloquet, MN (part of his ambitious Broadacre City community plan).  Here is a list of all the specific Minnesota locations with maps and pertinent information:

Twin Cities area



St. Louis Park


South Minnesota



North Minnesota


Saint Joseph

This entry was posted in art, information and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *