Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1948 and completed in 1950, the Weltzheimer/Johnson House is the first Usonian house in Ohio and one of only a handful open to the public across the nation.
Usonian refers to a group of about 50 homes that Wright designed for middle-class life in post World War II America. These environmentally conscious homes were ahead of their time and free of previous architectural convention. Usonian homes are typically modest, single-story dwellings without garages, L-shaped to fit around a garden terrace, and constructed of native materials with flat roofs and large cantilevered overhangs for passive solar heating and cooling, natural lighting with clerestory windows, and radiant-floor heating.
The Weltzheimer/Johnson House is a prime example of Usonian characteristics. Built of brick masonry and redwood, its distinct features include hundreds of stained croquet balls forming the roof dentil ornamentation. This circular motif is echoed in the shadow panel screens of the clerestory and the interior brick columns that separate the workspace from the living room.
The Weltzheimer family lived in the house until 1963 when the property was sold to developers and remodeling efforts scarred the space. However, in 1968, Ellen H. Johnson, Oberlin professor of art history, purchased the home and began the restoration process. At her death in 1992, the house was given to Oberlin College to serve as a guesthouse for the art department and the Allen Memorial Art Museum.
The Weltzheimer/Johnson House is open from noon until 5 p.m. the first and third Sundays of each month. Admission is $5 per adult. No advance registration is required.