A clear expression of Wright’s Usonian design philosophy, the Weltzheimer/Johnson House demonstrates an architectural answer to the demand for beautiful and affordable middle-class homes in post-World War II America. The concepts of organic architecture had evolved into these Usonian characteristics by the time of the house’s construction: a flowing floor plan with distinct public and private wings; a slab floor of concrete with grid patterning and radiant heat; a flat roof and cantilevered carport; a centralized masonry fireplace; board-and-batten ceilings with “sandwich” walls; built-in furniture; and tall glass windows and doors opening to the landscape.
Commissioned by the Weltzheimer family in 1947 and completed in 1949, the house originally stood amid cornfields on a large lot across from the Oberlin Golf Club (founded in 1899 and active today). After the Weltzheimers sold the property, alterations to Wright’s design were made by intervening developers. The property went through several stages of conservation before it was bequeathed to Oberlin College in 1992.
In 1968, the home was purchased by Ellen H. Johnson, the distinguished art history professor at Oberlin College who started its famed art rental program. Johnson, a well-known art critic and collector, hosted such artists as Robert Morris in her home. With the help of her many students and local contractors, Johnson restored much of the property to its original state as designed by Wright. She bequeathed the house to Oberlin College and, following her death in 1992, it has been overseen by the AMAM and the Art Department.
Fred Unwin, an interior designer and ardent enthusiast of Wright’s Usonian philosophy, is a volunteer docent at the Weltzheimer/Johnson house and is intimately familiar with the house’s many features.
Wednesday, March 24
3pm EST | 2pm CST | Noon PST
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