House & Home

Here’s your chance to tour one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s KC homes

The Sondern-Adler Home, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, goes up for auction on Monday.
The Sondern-Adler Home, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, goes up for auction on Monday. Special to The Star

It’s hard to believe, but June 8 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of America’s most famous architects, Frank Lloyd Wright.

Wright designed more than 1,000 structures, 532 of which were built, during his 70-year career. They all look as fresh and innovative today as they did when they were completed, including the church and two homes he designed for Kansas City.

Wright was the father of organic architecture, which promotes harmony between the natural world and the way humans inhabit it.

One of the best examples of this philosophy is Fallingwater, the Wright-designed home built in 1935 over a waterfall in rural southwestern Pennsylvania. The American Institute of Architects named it “the best all-time work of American architecture” in 1991, and Smithsonian Magazine has placed it on its list of 28 places “to visit before you die.”

But you don’t have to go to Pennsylvania to see a Wright home. The Sondern-Adler Home will be open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. June 10 as part of historic Roanoke Park’s Spring Home and Garden Tour. The tour will also include Thomas Hart Benton’s home and studio, which abut the Sondern-Adler house, and four other homes.

The Sondern-Adler Home at 3600 Belleview Ave. is named after each of its first two owners, both of whom hired Frank Lloyd Wright to design parts of it.

Clarence Sondern contracted the architect to design the first part of the home in 1939. The result was a 900-square-foot Usonian-style masterpiece with Wright’s trademark deep overhangs and big windows that invite nature indoors. It included what is now the home’s den/library, kitchen, two bedrooms and one bathroom.

Nine years later, the second owner, Arnold Adler, invited Wright to design a 2,000-square-foot addition. The result is a large open living space that includes a formal dining area with built-in seating and a sunken living room with a fireplace and three walls of big windows. Wright also added a bedroom, bathrooms, carports and three vast terraces.

Current owner Jim Blair has lived in the house since 1997, first as a renter and finally buying it about 12 years ago. He loves to entertain so others can experience the historic home.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s a great party house,” he told The Star in 2015. “I think every time I walk in the door I realize it’s a very special place. All of these houses, we’re just passing through and doing things to preserve them for the future.”

Blair also rents out a bedroom (with private bath) in the Sondern-Adler home for $250 a night on airbnb.com.

Wright’s other local designs (not on the tour) include:

▪ The Bott House, a double-cantilever house that sits on a bluff north of downtown Kansas City, overlooking the Missouri River. Wright designed it in 1956 and it was built posthumously in 1963.

▪ Community Christian Church, which Wright envisioned as a church of the future. He designed it in 1940, and it was built in 1941 on Main Street near the Country Club Plaza.

Add a little Wright to your home

Fans of Frank Lloyd Wright can also celebrate his birth with any of these accessories.

Saturday, June 10

The Roanoke Park Spring Home and Garden Tour runs from noon to 5 p.m. $25 tickets include a light refreshment. A limited number of tickets to a garden-style party from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Thomas Hart Benton Home, followed by a more formal party from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Sondern-Adler Home, are $50 and include the tour. The deadline to purchase the party tickets is Monday, June 5.

Visit RoanokeHomeTour.com for more information.

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