At the time he was designing the Park Inn Hotel and City National Bank in Mason City, Iowa, Frank Lloyd Wright was asked to build a home for Dr George C. Stockman.
The Stockman House, also known as the Mrs. Evangeline Skarlis House, was built in 1908 and was originally located at 311 1st St. SE. Much later it was moved to 530 1st St. NE to avoid being demolished. It has been fully restored as a public museum, features numerous authentic period furnishings and reproduction pieces and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For the design of the Stockman House, Wright adapted a plan he had published in the Ladies’ Home Journal in 1907. Titled “A Fireproof House for $5000”, the design scaled-down Wright’s Prairie Style into a smaller, more compact dwelling that was more affordable for a family of medium income. Stockman owned the house until 1924, after which it passed through the hands of at least six owners, including one who used it for a photography studio. Although the house became run down, very few alterations to its fabric were ever made.
Ownership of the house was eventually transferred to the River City Society and the restoration that ensued included a new roof, repair of exterior stucco and interior plaster, new wiring and plumbing, and general refurbishment. Original materials and architectural integrity were maintained as far as possible, but in some cases less costly, modern products were substituted for damaged materials impossible to replace.
Today Frank Lloyd Wright may seem dated. But his enduring appeal resides in his deep understanding of light and space, of the natural warmth of wood and stone, of form and function.