Malcolm and Nancy Willey House
The Willey House is where Frank Lloyd Wright learned to design for the needs of the middle class. Malcolm and Nancy Willey were the first of many young couples to respond to An Autobiography calling it “the kind of book that makes ideas grow.”
His first, humble commission amid the doldrums of the Great Depression was the spark that ignited the bonfire of Wright’s sensational second act, Usonia. Wright’s response to Nancy Willey’s request was “Nothing is trivial because it is not big.” In a commission constrained by the limited resources of the client and inspired by the tumultuous social climate of the times, the Willey House broke new ground in many regards; simplicity of plan, eloquence of materials palette, monolithic use of red brick throughout and the first time a kitchen was open to the living/dining space. Unlike his wealthy clients of the past the Willey’s would have no servants, therefore every room of the house needed to be equally beautiful and functional.