Allen House Furniture Acquired

By:Howard W. Ellington,
Architect and trustee
Allen-Lambe Foundation

The Allen-Lambe Foundation, new owners of the Henry J. Allen house (1916) in Wichita, Kansas recently acquired several pieces of furniture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and George Neidecken of auction in New York.

After Howard Ellington, trustee, was notified that the pieces would be offered, he and Pamela Kingsbury, historian for the house, had approximately one week to raise the funds for the first of three auctions, and two weeks for the second and third auctions containing items from the Allen House.

Concerned that the pieces would be lost to private collectors, the foundation sought permission from the auction houses and the consignor to record the historic pieces. Conservancy board member and Wright home owner Roland Reisley was asked to photograph the pieces and make key measurements so they could be reproduced if necessary. Access was finally granted the day before the auctions.

Fortunately, approximately 40 individuals contributed sufficient funds to acquire the most important pieces; Mrs. Allen’s desk and chair, the living room fireplace screen, and the reception hall banquette with cushions. A dressing table stool, lounge chair, and daybed were not acquired.

The banquette had been removed during a previous remodeling and will be reinstalled according to Wright’s original plans. Information from the Niedecked records at the Frank Lloyd Wright and Prairie Archives, Milwaukee Art Museum, indicates that the cushions and upholstery were supplied by Niedecken and the details for the banquette, bookcase, radiator grills, etc. were by Wright. Documentation for Mrs. Allen’s desk indicates a collaboration between Niedecken and Wright. The desk is based on a Wright table desk with drawers and stationary storage added at the suggestion of Mrs. Allen and incorporated by Niedecken. The desk chair is by Wright.

These pieces along with 17 others on loan from the Wichita State University Endowment Association will showcase Prairie Style interiors of Frank Lloyd Wright State and his collaboration with George Niedecken For additional information readers can refer to the case study for Henry J. Allen Residence, p. 84-91 of “The Domestic Scene (1897-1977): George Niedecken, Interior Architect” published by the Milwaukee Art Museum, 1891.

Real Estate Clearinghouse
The Conservancy is interested in matching sympathetic, preservation oriented buyers with Wright buildings on the market. Those interested in buying are asked to sign a preservation agreement before listings are made available.

Information submitted about Wright buildings for sale should include: original client name, address, year of design, contact name address and phone, asking price, and a black and white photo.

Both potential buyers and sellers are encouraged to support this program by becoming Associate Members of the Conservancy.

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