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Sullivan, Wright, Prairie School, & Organic Architecture

These collections bring together the seminal work of Louis H. Sullivan, "lieber meister" of Frank Lloyd Wright, early and late projects by Wright himself, and work by colleagues and students of Wright, such as Marion Mahony Griffin, Bruce Goff, and Allan Gelbin. The generational and intellectual relationships within this group are well represented. The Sullivan collection contains the most important group of original manuscripts of his influential writings and early drawings, essential material for the history of the first Chicago School.

Note on processing status abbreviations:
  • [P] = Processed and available for patron use.
  • [PAR] = Partially processed; may be available for patron use upon the consent of the Archivist.
  • [U] = Unprocessed and unavailable for patron use.

Dankmar Adler papers, 1844–1941.

.2 linear foot [P]

Comprehensive guide to Louis Sullivan materials at the Art Institute and related resources. List and photographs of Louis Sullivan buildings extant in Chicago. Born in Germany, Adler immigrated to the United States with his family in 1854, settling in Detroit. Adler studied architecture and engineering under several apprenticeships and in the military before establishing an architectural office in Chicago in 1871. Adler's noted partnership with architect Louis Sullivan began in 1879, with Adler providing the engineering and planning expertise that complemented Sullivan's talent for form, material, and ornament. Before the dissolution of their partnership in 1895, Adler and Sullivan had designed more than one hundred buildings and made significant innovations in steel-frame construction. This small collection consists of business and personal letters and papers, a short autobiography, and family photographs.

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See also: Louis Sullivan Collection
See also: Louis Sullivan Buildings Extant in Chicago


Joseph J. Bagley Cottage collection, c.1916-c.1925.

.5 linear foot [P]

The Bagley Cottage was one of three Frank Lloyd Wright-designed residences completed in 1916 in Grand Beach, Michigan, a resort frequented by Chicagoans. The cottage is documented in photographs and architectural drawings. As the house has been severely altered, these documents are the only record of its original state.

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Francis Barry Byrne collection, 1941-1952.

.5 linear foot [P]

For seven years Francis Barry Byrne apprenticed to Frank Lloyd Wright in Wright's Oak Park studio. In 1913 he agreed to manage Walter Burley Griffin's office while Griffin and his wife, Marion Mahony, were in Australia developing the plan for the new capital city of Canberra. Although steeped in the Prairie School design idiom, Byrne's exposure to modernist European architects such as Mies, Mendelsohn, Loos and Poelzig produced an individualized, streamlined form of the Prairie School style with bolder masses, unadorned surfaces, and clean-edged openings. Byrne was notable as a designer of residences, churches and civic buildings; as an architecture critic and theorist he wrote extensively on the design of religious architecture in response to the Catholic Church's liturgical reform movement. The collection includes typescripts and published versions of his articles and reviews. Related material can also be found in the Department of Architecture.

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Carson Pirie Scott records, 1857-c.2000.

6 linear feet [P]

Approximately eight linear feet of papers and five oversize scrapbooks documenting real estate transactions, events, advertising, etc. of the Carson Pirie Scott & Co. department store. Collection includes correspondence, photographs, magazine and newspaper articles, business memoranda, and legal documents.

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Dana-Thomas House restoration: plans and documents, 1981-1989.

2 linear feet [P]

The State of Illinois, as new owner of one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most sophisticated Prairie School houses, undertook an extensive restoration project of the Dana-Thomas house in Springfield, Illinois, between 1987 and 1990. The documentation of that restoration includes restoration reports, project manuals, historical research, condition reports and architectural plans.

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First National Bank of Dwight collection, 1905-1920 (bulk 1905-1906).

1.25 linear feet [P]

Col. Frank L. Smith commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design one of his earliest commercial buildings in order to accommodate both the First National Bank of Dwight (Illinois) and an office for Col. Smith's insurance business. True to the stereotype of Wright, the correspondence from Wright and his assistants, Walter Burley Griffin and William Drummond, equivocates on the delivery of drawings while haranguing the client on his choice of a stock vault door with an "overdressed, gaudy, disreputable door frame." The project is documented from design development through construction with extensive architect/client/contractor correspondence and some architectural drawings. Related material can also be found in the Department of Architecture.

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Allan J. Gelbin papers, 1900-1995 (bulk 1949-1994).

40 linear feet [P]

Deeply impressed by Frank Lloyd Wright's theories about organic architecture, Gelbin (1929-1994) quit college to become an apprentice to Wright at Taliesin from 1949 to 1953. He then worked as a general contractor and supervisor overseeing the construction of three Wright homes in Canton, Ohio, and one in New Canaan, Connecticut. In private practice on the East Coast, Gelbin continued Wrightian design in residential architecture and authored Sun, earth, and sky: ideas for a new city (1989), an "up-dated" version of Wright's Broadacre City plan. Gelbin's career is extensively documented in correspondence, photographs, drawings, and project files. A life-long follower of Wright, Gelbin gathered much research documentation on Wright's projects and photographed nearly all of Wright's extant buildings. Related material can also be found in the Department of Architecture.

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Detailed Collection Description
Sun, earth, and sky online


Bruce Goff archive.

132.5 linear feet [P]

Although he never studied under Frank Lloyd Wright, Bruce Goff (1904-1982) shared many of the architectural principles of Wright and other organic architects--the use of natural materials, idiosyncratic designs, free-flowing interior spaces, and individualized projects for individual clients--all contributing to a "timeless" architecture. An influential and iconoclastic architect, Goff was also an inspirational teacher, heading the School of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma (1947-1955) and training apprentices throughout his career. His design for the Bavinger residence in Norman, Oklahoma, won the prestigious 25-year award from the American Institute of Architects in 1987. During a career that spanned six decades, Goff designed hundreds of projects, nearly one hundred and fifty of which were built. In 1995, The Art Institute of Chicago mounted a large retrospective exhibition with an accompanying catalog, The Architecture of Bruce Goff, 1904-1982: Design for the Continuous Present. This collection consists of Goff's entire professional papers, business and personal correspondence, project files, photographs and slides, published and unpublished lectures and articles, business and personal financial papers, personal collections of shells and rocks, clothing, player-piano rolls composed and cut by Goff, and taped interviews and lectures.

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Herb Greene papers.

[P]

Drawings and papers of the architect Herb Greene, who studied with and later worked for Bruce Goff. Greene also worked for John Lautner, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's apprentices. Greene taught architecture at the University of Oklahoma for six years following Goff’s retirement. Since retiring himself, Greene has moved to California where he "continues to write, paint and promote his concept for building with artists."

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Walter and Marion Mahony Griffin collection, 1915-1968.

.25 linear foot [P]

Both husband and wife and architectural partners, Chicagoans Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin were invited to Australia in 1913 to execute Walter's winning city plan for the new capital, Canberra. The Griffins eventually settled in the suburbs of Sydney, where they established "Castlecrag," a neighborhood of small houses and community buildings for like-minded artists and intellectuals. This collection is comprised of microfilmed drawings--by the Griffins and others architects--and contemporary newspaper articles about Castlecrag and Walter's design for an incinerator in Willoughby, Australia. This collection also contains a small group of material relating to the Griffins' work in the United States. Related material can also be found in the Department of Architecture.

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See also: Magic of America collection


Guaranty Building collection.

[PAR]

This collection of drawings, documents and building fragments was gathered by John D. Randall (1919-1999). In his capacity as manager of the Guaranty Building he was in the ideal position to identify numerous objects for his collection. Drawing on this collection Randall opened the Louis Sullivan Architecture Museum in 1974. Additionally, Randall, a Chicago-born architect and author, was a key leader in the successful preservation efforts to save the Guaranty and Sullivan’s Wainwright Building of St. Louis.

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Donald Hoffmann papers.

[P]

Research files of author Donald Hoffmann who wrote extensively on John Wellborn Root, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.

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Herbert and Katherine Jacobs—Frank Lloyd Wright collection, 1936-1974.

4.5 linear feet [P]

Frank Lloyd Wright designed three houses for the Jacobses, two of which were built. The first house, known as Usonia #1, was built in 1937 in Madison, Wisconsin; the second house, the "Solar Hemicycle," was built in 1948 in Middleton, Wisconsin. This collection documents the construction of these houses through correspondence, annotations, newspaper articles, photographs, periodical literature, and drawings. The collection is augmented by photographs of other buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, newspaper articles about Wright's architecture and life, brochures on Taliesin projects and Wright memorabilia: announcements, programs, candid photographs, and Taliesin publications. The collection comprehensively records the design development and construction of Wright's first Usonian residence, an important summation of Wright's theories on the use of materials and space. Related material can also be found in the Department of Architecture.

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Ralph Marlowe Line collection, 1944-1960.

.5 linear foot [P]

An avid scholar of architect Louis Sullivan, Line was an associate professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Line's writings and photographs about Sullivan were most notably published in the 1956 reprint of Sullivan's literary masterwork, The Autobiography of an Idea. This collection includes Line's photographs of buildings and ornament designed by Louis Sullivan. Most of the images are of projects in the Midwest, although there are representative images from across the United States.

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See also: Louis Sullivan Collection
See also: Louis Sullivan Buildings Extant in Chicago


Luxfer Prism collection, 1897-c.1920.

.5 linear foot [P]

The Luxfer Prism Company, a Chicago-area manufacturer of prismatic windowpanes and fittings, was in business from c.1897 to 1920. Frank Lloyd Wright designed prismatic panes for the company and illustrated some company publications. The collection contains several prisms, correspondence, slides, and patent information.

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Magic of America, c.1937-1949.

2 linear feet [P]

Walter Burley Griffin and his wife Marion Mahony Griffin were both influential designers in Frank Lloyd Wright's Oak Park studio. They won the competition to design the new Australian capital city of Canberra and moved to Australia in 1913. Written after Walter's death in 1937, the unpublished "Magic" typescript is the biography of Walter and the autobiography of Marion, who also wished to clarify the roles played by Wright, Sullivan, and other architects in the development of Prairie School architecture. The approximately 1100 pages of annotated typescript are accompanied by an image collection of approximately 200 photographs, articles, and drawings selected by Marion. Related material can also be found in the Department of Architecture.

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Text Magic of America: Electronic Edition
Image database Magic of America: Electronic Edition


Richard Nickel archive, 1850-2011.

76 lineat feet [P]

The Richard Nickel Archive includes approximately 15,000 negatives, photographs, contact sheets, items of correspondence, documents, architectural drawings and reproductions, digital image files, realia, and other effects, including Nickel’s personal library. The central focus of the Nickel Archive is the photographs and historical files pertaining to the architecture of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, known during their partnership from 1880 to 1895 as Adler & Sullivan Architects. The collection also highlights the individual projects of both Adler and Sullivan separately after 1895. In addition to the material related to Adler and Sullivan and the architects of the Chicago School, the collection is particularly rich in the work of the Prairie School and Second Chicago School architectural movements.

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Louis Penfield Residence collection, 1959-1982.

.1 linear foot [P]

This collection is comprised of architectural drawings relating to Frank Lloyd Wright's 1959 second design for the unbuilt Louis Penfield house in Willoughby, Ohio.

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Prairie School Press archives, 1961-1981.

16.5 linear feet [P]

In 1961 Wilbert and Marilyn Hasbrouck established the Prairie School Press in Chicago to publish important but out-of-print architecture sources on or by the Prairie School architects. They issued facsimile editions of numerous titles, including Louis Sullivan's A System of Architectural Ornament According with a Philosophy of Man's Powers, and The House Beautiful, illustrated by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Hasbroucks' journal, The Prairie School Review, published from 1964 to 1981, was the earliest scholarly journal to feature illustrated articles on various Prairie School projects, reviews of current publications, and preservation news. The collection includes much unpublished material: manuscripts, photographs, research notes, and correspondence with scholars regarding current research projects. It also holds the editorial and production records of The Prairie School Review.

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Wilbert R. Hasbrouck Oral History


John D. Randall papers, 1884-1993.

1 linear foot [P]

Comprehensive guide to Louis Sullivan materials at the Art Institute and related resources. List and photographs of Louis Sullivan buildings extant in Chicago. Champion of [Dankmar] Adler and [Louis H.] Sullivan's Guaranty Building in Buffalo, New York, and the Wainwright Building in St. Louis, Missouri, John D. Randall was a prominent Chicago architect, author, and preservationist. A graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology and a student of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Randall led campaigns to save important works of Louis Sullivan's architecture in Chicago and throughout the United States. In the 1990s, Randall was also the author of a revised and expanded edition of his father Frank D. Randall's comprehensive History of the Development of Building Construction in Chicago. This collection is comprised of Randall's writings, correspondence, photographs, and miscellaneous publications.

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See also: Louis Sullivan Collection
See also: Louis Sullivan Buildings Extant in Chicago


Homer Grant Sailor papers, 1914-1993.

.5 linear foot [P]

After graduating from Armour Institute of Technology in 1911, Sailor became one of the last draftsmen for Louis Sullivan. In 1917 he established his private practice, designing small Prairie School residences, low-rise commercial buildings and churches in the Chicago area. His work drew upon Sullivan's simple massing and exhibits a program of applied terra cotta ornament more restrained than that of Sullivan. The collection is comprised of photographs representing more than 30 projects.

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Sullivan/Van Allen Building collection, 1910-1918.

.5 linear foot [P]

In 1910 John D. Van Allen commissioned Louis Sullivan to design a new department store for his family business in Clinton, Iowa. By this date Sullivan had few commissions and thus spent considerable time attending to his immediate projects. In frequent letters to his client (occasionally daily), Sullivan wrote of his design, guiding and persuading the client toward Sullivan's desired end. In addition to more than one hundred letters, the collection includes financial documents and rare construction photographs.

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See also: Louis Sullivan Collection
See also: Louis Sullivan Buildings Extant in Chicago


Sullivaniana collection, 1780-1972 (bulk 1870-1930).

7 linear feet [P]

The Sullivaniana collection is largely the gift of George Elmslie, one of Sullivan's last colleagues and the executor of his estate. This grouping forms the largest extant collection of Sullivan documents (excluding architectural and design drawings). Among Sullivan's contributions to the development of modern American architecture was the new aesthetic for the visual organization of tall buildings: a strong base at grade level, top floors capped with an eye-arresting cornice, and the general office floors in the central shaft repeatable ad infinitum. Sullivan was one of the most prolific architect/critics of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and numerous draft manuscripts and typescripts of his writings are held in this collection. Also included are sketches, personal and business correspondence, personal and project photographs, and memorabilia. Related material can also be found in the Department of Architecture.

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See also: Louis Sullivan Collection
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Thomas Eddy Tallmadge collection, 1908-1938.

1.5 linear feet [P]

After graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1898, Tallmadge spent seven years in the office of architect and planner Daniel Burnham. He then joined in partnership with Vernon Watson to design numerous Prairie School-style buildings in the Chicago area. Tallmadge was also a frequent lecturer and prolific author; during the first decades of the 20th century his articles on contemporary architecture in Chicago were published in Architectural Record, Architectural Review, Building for the Future, and The Architect (London). The collection includes his travel diary/sketchbook of 1908, a typescript for one of his books, and digests of lectures given at The Art Institute of Chicago. Related material can also be found in the Department of Architecture.

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Crombie Taylor papers.

[P]

Known as an architect, design educator and preservationist who championed the work of Louis H. Sullivan, this collection documents both Crombie's own designs as well as his Sullivan-related studies. The latter group includes stencils, wallpapers, drawings, photographs, and paper files.

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Midwest Masterpieces: The Sullivan Banks


John S. Van Bergen collection.

[U]

John Shellette Van Bergen was born on October 2, 1885 in Oak Park, Illinois in 1885. Van Bergen went to work for Walter Burley Griffin in 1907 as an apprentice draftsman and in January of 1909 left for Frank Lloyd Wright's office in Oak Park. While at Wright's studio he did working drawings and supervision for the Frederick Robie and Mrs. Thomas Gale houses. Van Bergen later worked for William E. Drummond until opening his own office several years later. Van Bergen designed dozens of Prairie School style residences in the Chicago area, predominantly in the suburbs of Oak Park and River Forest.

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Frank Lloyd Wright in Michigan collection, 1945-1988.

.5 linear foot [P]

This collection contains research documents assembled by the donor, R. Dale Northup, while writing his book, Frank Lloyd Wright in Michigan, (Reference Publications Inc., 1991). Primarily composed of photocopies of correspondence between Wright and his clients and also between Mr. Northup and Wright's clients and the current owners of the homes, the collection also includes a few photographs and blueprints documenting Wright's Michigan projects.

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Wrightiana collection, c.1897-1997 (bulk 1949-1969).

1 linear foot [P]

One of the founders of the Prairie School of architecture, and renowned for his prodigous contributions to American architectural philosophy, teaching, and practice, Frank Lloyd Wright began his career in the Chicago office of [Dankmar] Adler and [Louis H.] Sullivan in the early 1880s. Wright established his own firm in 1893 and continued to practice until his death in 1959. In addition to his design work for buildings, furniture, decorative and graphic arts, Wright also wrote extensively on his architectural ideas. Amassed from various sources, this collection includes booklets, pamphlets, brochures, letters, transcripts of lectures, published articles, and photographs of and/or about Frank Lloyd Wright, his design projects, exhibitions, honors, lectures, writings, Taliesin East, and Taliesin West. Related material can also be found in the Department of Architecture.

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