Elizabeth Jo Lampl
Robert Llewellyn Wright House
7927, Deepwell Drive, West Bethesda, Montgomery County
The Robert Llewellyn Wright House is a two-story concrete-block structure designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1953. Composed of two intersecting arcs resulting in a configuration reminiscent of a ship's hull, the house was designed using intersecting and concentric segments of a circle, or "hemicycles." The house is sited on a sloping lot, overlooking a stream. The north facade faces up the slope and holds the entrance; the south side, overlooking a wooded ravine, is almost entirely defined by large casement windows and plate-glass doors, serving a semicircular terrace and two second-floor balconies. The walls are constructed of concrete block; vertical joints are finished flush, while horizontal joints are deeply raked. The entrance facade is approached by a curving drive terminating in a broad, graveled court. This elevation is two stories in height; its overhanging flat roof is defined by a cornice with a fascia of lapped Philippine mahogany boards. The recessed entrance is roughly centered at ground level, consisting of a solid mahogany door surmounted by a plate-glass transom. To the right of the entrance, the circular utilities core forms a tower, breaking the cornice and rising about three feet above the roof line. The curving wall of this core forms the right side of the entrance recess; to the left of the door, a mitred plate-glass window located high in the wall lights a small lavatory. An angled planting box projects below the lavatory window. A series of vertical fixed windows at the ground level of the utility core lights the kitchen; two of these openings are carried up to the second story. Exterior and interior woodwork is Philippine mahogany, and many of the furnishings are Wright designed. Comparison of the original working drawings and the house as built shows some slight divergences from Wright's conception. The north segment of the circular utility core was apparently intended to be open a full two stories above the ground floor workspace; plans were changed to insert a master bath in this space on the second floor. The north facade of the utility "tower" is shown in the plans with three vertical window openings rising from the ground floor to the cornice, rather than two; in construction, the central opening was eliminated above the ground floor. The height of the balcony parapets, and the overall height of the house were reduced slightly. A carport was planned to extend north from the utility core; this was not realized, and a low wall was substituted. The entrance to the curving drive which approaches the house is marked by a low wall, constructed of concrete block laid in the same manner as the house. This wall incorporates a mailbox and a Wrightian metal sculpture. The grounds were landscaped by Lloyd Wright, son of the architect, in 1960.
The Robert Llewellyn Wright House is significant for its association with Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed the house in 1953 for his sixth child. The building exemplifies the "hemicycle" phase of the architect's late work in its plan, based upon concentric and intersecting segments of a circle. The Wright house is exceptionally significant in representing the last stylistic phase of the architect's career; Wright designed only a dozen hemicyclical houses between 1941 and 1957. Furthermore, this is the only building of its type in Maryland, and one of only two Wright-designed structures in the state (the other, the Joseph Euchtman House of 1940 in Baltimore City, exemplifies Wright's earlier "Usonian" form).