Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home receives $1 million to fund restoration

A famous house in West Lafayette has received money for restoration.

Posted: Sep 15, 2020 9:31 AM
Updated: Sep 16, 2020 11:17 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.  — A famous house in West Lafayette has received money for restoration. 

The National Park Service announced Tuesday it will award a $500,000 Save America’s Treasures grant to support restoration efforts at Samara, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in West Lafayette.

SAMARA exterior: Photo provided by Indiana Landmarks

The public grant will be matched by $503,000 in private funds from the John E. Christian Family Memorial Trust, Inc. who co-stewards the house with Indiana Landmarks.

“Samara is truly one of America’s treasures, not only because the home was designed by America’s most famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, but because it’s one of the most complete, fully implemented Wright-designed projects, with the original landscape, graphic motif, interior furnishings and exterior details,” said Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks. “We’re pleased that it has risen to such national prominence.”

Indiana Landmarks led a years-long effort to get the building designated a National Historic Landmark, which made it eligible for federal grants like this one. In 2015 it received the designation.

According to a press release, Dr. John and Catherine Christian commissioned Wright to design the house, working with him over a period of five years (1951-1956) to develop the design and construction details. As the sole owners, the Christians consistently adhered to Wright’s prescribed concepts and ideas. 

Wright called the house Samara after the winged seeds produced by the site’s evergreens. He repeated an abstract version of the winged seed design motif in the interior and exterior of the house.

“Dr. Christian provided exceptional care for the home until his health began to fail in later years,” said Davis. “Thanks to his care, the home remains stunning, but, as one might expect with a 64-year-old home, it is ready for some structural restoration.”

Chicago-based Harboe Architects conducted a conditions assessment, which determined the restoration plan. A contractor has not yet been selected to perform the restoration work.

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