Renovation Progress – March 1992

March 13, 1992

WICHITA, KAN. — The Allen- Lambe House in Wichita has received several donations to aid in the progress of the renovation of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed house.

Wright started the design process for the prairie-style house for Henry J. Allen and Elsie Allen in 1915. It was a private ownership for several decades until it was donated to The Wichita State University, which sold the house to the Allen-Lambe House Foundation in 1990.

The foundation is in the process of restoring the home and opening it for tours and research by appointment. Several exhibits and special receptions are also being planned in Wichita for 1992 to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Wright’s birth, June 8th.

A portrait of Henrietta Allen, daughter of Henry J. And Elsie Allen, painted around 1930 by B.J.O. Nordfeldt, has been donated by Elizabeth Koch of Wichita. One of four children born to the Allens, Henreietta was the only one to live in the house. The Allen family moved into the house in 1918 when Henrietta was 18. The portrait, which recently surfaced at a gallery in Santa Fe, will hang in Henrietta’s bedroom when the renovation is complete.

Nordfeldt, well-known on the East Coast and in Taos, was a friend of Kansas artist and Swedish emmigrant Birger Sandzen. Nordfeldt, who was born in 1878 and died in 1955, came to teach at the Wichita Art Association through the efforts of Bill and Betty Dickerson.

Henrietta Allen Holmes donated an extensive art collection started by her mother Elsie to the Wichita Center for the Arts and selections from the 250-piece permanent collection will be on display at the Center from June 4 to July 31 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Wright’s birth. Additional art works donated by Elsie Allen to Baker University will also be included.

Bucket Graf, an architect in Lincoln, Neb., has donated a collection of six architectural periodicals from 1940 to 1986. “This will be an excellent addition to our study center/archives,” said Howard Ellington, Executive Director of the Allen-Lambe House Foundation. “These periodicals will provide additional research material on Wright and other architects of the period.”

A substantial grant, has been made to the restoration fund by the Forrest C. Lattner Foundation, which is based in Florida.

“This grant greatly added to our efforts to bring the home back to the period when the Allens lived there,” Ellington said.

Construction and renovation so far have included adding a parking lot and creating a visitors’ center and gift shop, restoring the rear stairs, and second floor partition locations. The water garden has also been renovated with water lillies and Koi fish installed and a fountain has been restored. Other landscaping has also been completed.

Interior work has included the completion of a historical color analysis by Robert Furhoff of Chicago, who spent a week scraping away paint and collecting samples from as many as sixteen layers. The restoration will return the house to Wright’s original color scheme.

Several pieces of furniture originally in the house have also been reclaimed from two different auctions in New York. A desk Wright designed for Mrs. Allen’s upstairs study was bought through Christie’s, and at Sotheby’s, a bronze and German silver fire screen and the reception room’s original banquette and cushions were purchased with funds from private donations.

In addition to the Wichita Center for the Arts, other Wichita Museums will be planning exhibits to celebrate the 125th anniversary and fund-raiser birthday party at the house which is scheduled for June 6th. From May 17 to July 12, an exhibit, “Frank Lloyd Wright and Goerge M. Niedecken: Designs for the Henry J. Allen House”, will be on display at the Wichita Art Museum.

At the Wichita State University Open House and tours of Corbin Hall designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1957, will be conducted.

At The Wichita Sedgwick County Historical Museum, June thru December, 1992, an exhibit “Frank Lloyd Wright: Wichita, The First Usonian Design” will focus on the H.C. Hoult house designed in 1935, but not built.

A traveling exhibit of furniture sponsored by Atelier International Ltd. of Italy will be displayed in the house for three weeks in September 1002. Al makes Wright furniture under license for resale. One featured piece will be the dining table Wright designed for the Allen house in Wichita.

More information about the Allen-Lambe House may be obtained by calling Ellington at 682-3671. Tours of the restoration in progress can be arranged for groups of 10 to 15 people for $5 per person.

Allen-Lambe House Museum and Study Center
255 N. Roosevelt
Wichita, KS. 67208

Categories: Press Release