Right now, we're knee-deep in the study of Frank Lloyd Wright's "prairie houses". In 1936, during the USA depression, Frank Lloyd Wright developed a simplified version of Prairie architecture called Usonian. Wright believed these stripped-down houses represented the democratic ideals of the United States. In fact, the only community that Wright ever helped build was one based on the Usonian-type house. To see how Wright’s prairie houses continue to influence American architecture, we explored the Prairie Styles website.
As Max read about the Robie house and Wright's adaptation of the prairie house style to downtown cities, he mentioned that he thought Tuscaloosa might have its own prairie house "somewhere near the University". Intrigued by the prospect, I did a little online sleuthing to quickly discover that Max, of course, was probably right.
- Low-pitched roof
- Overhanging eaves
- Horizontal lines and rectangular shapes
- Central chimney and hearth
- Open floor plan
- Clerestory windows
I created a worksheet for Max to frame his analysis of what the Memnon-Tierce house. You can download it below if you'd like to try and determine if the Memnon-Tierce house qualifies as a prairie house.
Like all local history investigations, the family behind the house is a story in itself. You can learn more about the fascinating Tierce family history and chase it with Rick Bragg's article about the Tierce house.
The Tierce family in 1901 on the front steps of their home just south of North River (Lake Tuscaloosa) on Highway 69 North (Crabbe Road) .