Monday, June 15, 2009

Wright Stop

You won’t find advertising for the Dana-Thomas House in Springfield – the wonderful restoration of a Frank Lloyd Wright home now owned and operated by the State of Illinois itself.

Two reasons for no ads. One. All of the state, and particularly its capital, is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abe Lincoln. Newspapers, travel guides and the Illinois Tourism website are chock-a-block with Bicentennial events. That’s proper. That’s damned exciting. If you have any feeling for President Lincoln, you’ll visit Springfield this summer.

Two. The marvelous Wright-designed and built attraction was closed by ousted Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, whom even the Associated Press credits as being greedy, tactless and hair-obsessed. Our docent, without quite saying so, indicated that Blagojevich hates Springfield…he went out of his way to make closing the beautifully restored Dana-Thomas house part of his budget-cutting program. So Illinois temporarily closed the Dana-Thomas House to the public as of December 1, 2008.

The joke is on Blagojevich. He’s been shut down; the Dana-Thomas House reopened on April 23, 2009.

Here’s a terrific architechtural masterpiece – really does warrant that term – that hasn’t yet been re-listed on the “Enjoy Illinois” website. We found a listing of the house in the AAA Illinois Guidebook as we were driving south from Chicago.

Pre-vacation, when Frank White the Photographer found out we were driving to Chicago, and then home to Houston through Springfield, he kindly (and forcefully) suggested that we stop at the Lincoln house, or the cemetery where Father Abraham is buried.

He was horrified when I told him, after we got back, that we’d toured the classic Dana-Thomas House instead. But for people who love Wright’s architectural elegance (Barbara) or marketers that think a large part of Wright’s creativity is in his attention to detail (Richard), it was natural to pull off the Interstate, drive down the gridded streets of Springfield and find the home. Those red tickets let us into a bygone world.

Tourism advertising is not an established practice area for me. Say that America has 50 retail “stores” (states), each one with dozens or hundreds of “products” (events, attractions, historical sites, reenactments, state and regional parks) – the noise level is intense. With so many demands on our attention, I’m glad we spotted the Dana-Thomas House listing. We made the Wright stop, advertising or not.

PS: See far better photos of the House here.


Richard Laurence Baron said...

Thank you to the docents and other staff of the Dana-Thomas House - knowledgeable and entertaining, even on a Sunday afternoon.

Regina Albanese said...

Richard: Thank you forwarding your blog. I loved this one: "The joke is on Blagojevich. He’s been shut down; the Dana-Thomas House reopened on April 23, 2009." We are beginning to work on getting some billboards out. I'll have to give Tourism a call about their website.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Thanks for the note back, Regina. If/when you get the billboards up, send a photo to me - I'll do a follow-up post. Ta...