Frank Lloyd Wright is one of America’s most famous and prolific architects,* but New York City has only three projects to remember him by – and two were transplanted from the Midwest.
The landmark Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue (between 88th and 89th Streets) is instantly recognizable for its helical shape – decades ahead of its time when completed in 1959. Just a few blocks away, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Frank Lloyd Wright Room (gallery 745 on the first floor of the American Wing) preserves the living room from a 1914 home originally built in Wayzata, Minnesota for Frances W. Little. But you’ll have to trek to Staten Island to see the third project: The “Crimson Beech,” aka the William and Catherine Cass House, on Lighthouse Hill. [Note: This is a private home, please respect their privacy. You can see and photograph the front of the house from the road, but don’t trespass or expect a tour.] The house was actually prefabricated in the Midwest and shipped to Staten Island; it was completed in 1959, shortly after Wright’s death.
Frank Lloyd Wright Suggested Reading
- NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum)
- NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report (Cass House/Crimson Beech)
- Metropolitan Museum of Art – Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History and Little House
- Wikipedia articles on Frank Lloyd Wright, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Crimson Beech
- New York Times 2005 article about Crimson Beech
Visiting Crimson Beech by public transit is challenging. Weekdays: From the ferry terminal on Staten Island, take Staten Island Railway to Great Kills; transfer to the S54 bus toward West New Brighton – get off where the bus turns from Arthur Kill Road onto Richmond Road (about 10 minute ride). On weekends, take the S74 bus from the ferry terminal instead of the rail/bus combo (the S54 does not run on weekends). From the intersection of Arthur Kill Road and Richmond Road, walk uphill on Arthur Kill Road to Edinboro Road. This is a steep, winding route with no sidewalks and narrow shoulders – exercise caution. Oh, a little extra challenge: Edinboro Road has no street sign. Look on the right for a white sign for La Tourette Golf Course, turn right (east) there and follow the road (keep to the right) until it comes out on Rigby Avenue; turn right 1 block to Manor Court; on Manor Court, Crimson Beech will be the second house on the right, #48.**
Print the Google Map.
*In 1991 the American Institute of Architects declared Frank Lloyd Wright “the greatest American architect of all time.” In his 70-year career he designed 1,000 structures and completed 500. And what other architect has a song? (Simon and Garfunkle’s “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright.”)
**If you’ve made it all the way to Crimson Beech, you deserve a bonus: Go back up to Edinboro Road and walk east about a block to see the Staten Island Lighthouse (aka Richmond Light, aka Staten Island Range Lighthouse).