Frank Lloyd Wright considered the Laurent House in Rockford, IL, one of the most significant buildings he ever designed, calling it “my little gem”. Decades before the enactment of the Americans with Disability’s Act (ADA), Wright designed a fully accessible home for Kenneth Laurent, a paraplegic, and his wife Phyllis.
“Ken Laurent always said that the house allowed him to focus on his capabilities, rather than his disability,” says John Groh, Laurent House board member. Both functional and beautiful, the house connects the inhabitants with the surrounding natural environment, and includes a patio, fishpond, and carport.
The Laurents lived in the house from 1952 until 2012, at which time it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The house, along with its original furnishings, also designed by Wright, was purchased at auction by preservationists who turned it into a museum. The Laurent House is set to open to the public for the first time on June 6, just two days before what would be Wright’s 147th birthday.
During the three years of construction, Wright uncharacteristically developed a friendship with the Laurents and maintained close contact with them after the house was finished. He would visit them personally at the house and invited them to “drop in anytime” at his Wisconsin home. The Laurents visited Wright every year for his birthday celebration until Wright’s death in 1959.
All photos courtesy of Wright Auction House.