Clicks & Mortar

A Real Estate Blog - Est. 2009

Could This Be the Next Big Thing in Atlanta Housing Design?

You heard it here first: the next big thing in Atlanta housing design will be Prairie style.  This Midwestern-borne school of architecture originated in the early 1900s and is most closely associated with Frank Lloyd Wright, but there’s reason to believe we’ll be seeing more of it popping up around town in the near future. Here’s what you need to know.

Arthur B. Heurtley House - 1902
Photo by phigits, on Flickr

What we now refer to as Prairie architecture was a reaction by Chicago architects to the Neoclassical craze that swept the country in the 1890s.  They sought to develop a specifically American style, and the resulting buildings were characterized by open floorplans, grouped windows, overhanging eaves, controlled use of ornament, and an overall feel of horizontality.  This last feature ended up giving the style its name.

Prairie style wasn’t a huge hit in Atlanta during its initial heyday.  There are a few really genuine examples of this style in some of the intown neighborhoods, but for the most part our bungalows and foursquares are in the less edgy Craftsman mode.  Oddly enough, Jacksonville, Florida has a strong grip on original Prairie buildings in the southern U.S., owing to a 1902 fire and a willingness to experiment.  It took a while, but it looks like Atlantans are ready to give it a second chance.

In 2005, a Prairie-influenced home was built in the exurban-New Urbanist Vickery community as part of a Better Homes and Gardens contest.  I remember thinking it looked a little out of place amidst the more traditional designs, but now it seems like Toby Long of Clever Homes was a few years ahead of his time.  More recently, there’s a trio of infill homes by Jones Pierce Architects going up in Virginia Highland that would probably make Frank Lloyd Wright smile, or at least grin.  Jones Pierce was also responsible for the striking contemporary Prairie house that has majestically overlooked Euclid Avenue in Inman Park for the past few years.  A quick Clickscape search turned up this Prairie home for sale in Oakhurst that was designed by Eric Rawlins, whose portfolio includes a number of similar homes around town.

So why the change of heart?  Well, I think Atlantans are ready for something new, even if it is actually an old idea.  We’ve been stuck in a Craftsman bungalow craze for the past 10 years, and Prairie isn’t that far of a leap for a town that’s still conservative architecturally, at least when it comes to our homes.  Prairie homes are traditional enough to appease those who want to keep the look of older intown neighborhoods, and modern enough for those who like a little edge.   But rather than looking like a compromise, they tend to embody the best of both worlds.

  • Cooper Pierce

    Thanks for noticing our work. We have actually had several people ask us about designing more Prairie Style homes. We attribute the desire for Prairie Style because it does blend with the intown Craftsmen bungalows, Prairie four squares and Tudor cottages, but also lends itself to more contemporary open plan lifestyles. It is also a unique look that sets itself apart from the rest that may respresent the independent character of the owner.
    Joe Laster of Abraham Properties commissioned us to design the three houses in VAHI, and has done an exceptional job of staying true to the style in finishing the interiors as well. We think the last one is going to be a big hit with the outdoor fireplace on the front porch for those nice spring and fall evenings, and even current mild winter evenings.

  • Terry Kearns

    See the 3 (on one teardown lot) on Lanier Blvd.

  • Reece Carter

    I actually did another prairie influenced house at 7140 Cordery Rd in Vickery in ’08 as a result of the B&Gs acceptance to the community.