INDIANAPOLIS — The National Park Service has awarded a $500,000 Save America’s Treasures grant to support restoration efforts at Samara, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in West Lafayette that Indiana Landmarks co-stewards with the John E. Christian Family Memorial Trust, Inc.
The public grant will be matched by $503,000 in private funds from the Christian Family Memorial Trust.
“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 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.
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. The house represents a rare example of the relationship between owner and client that Wright espoused, but rarely achieved, in which the client was a dedicated partner with the architect in realizing and maintaining the full expression of the famous architect’s plans. Those ideas included specific furniture, china, bed linens and even the toilet paper holder.
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.