The Restoration of the Westcott House

Restoring The Westcott House to its original state was a painstaking and exacting labor of love. Because of the importance of restoring this Frank Lloyd Wright treasure and the need for the highest quality of preservation and restoration architecture, the Westcott House Foundation sought a proven restoration architectural team. Chambers, Murphy and Burge of Akron, Ohio, and Schooley Caldwell Associates of Columbus, Ohio, were secured to be the lead architectural firms for the project. Chambers, Murphy and Burge's resume includes restored architectural treasures such as Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest and Frank Lloyd Wright's Dana Thomas House. Schooley Caldwell Associates is well known for its historical restoration of the State Capitols in Ohio, Kansas and Utah. Schooley Caldwell Associates also provided the engineering design for the geothermal, fire alarm and suppression, and electrical systems. The Durable Slate Company of Columbus, Ohio, was chosen contractor in charge of construction. Offering complete restoration services, Durable Slate has helped restore many important Ohio properties, including the Ohio governor's mansion and the Harding and Hayes presidential homes.

Ronald Scherubel, Retired Executive Director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, said, "The Westcott House represents an important milestone in the history of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy's preservation efforts, being the first use of our Lewis-Haines Revolving Fund to rescue an almost forgotten Frank Lloyd Wright house from terminal neglect and deterioration and placing it in the hands of an organization solely dedicated to its restoration. Our congratulations to The Westcott House Foundation, which, with the expert assistance of restoration architects Chambers, Murphy and Burge and contractor Durable Slate Company, and a whole host of Ohio artisans, craftspeople and volunteers have completed a restoration project returning this important Wright Prairie house to its original glory. The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy will continue to monitor this project in partnership with the Westcott House Foundation, under our preservation easement, assuring that this important house will remain in good condition in perpetuity."

Restoration of the Westcott House took over four years. Stabilizing the structure to make it safe was the first step. All the 1940s apartment-dividing walls were torn down, load-bearing ones were reinforced and dry-rotted and termite-infested beams replaced. The basement had to be further excavated to add more support structures, under the heavy living room fireplace, for example. And a new custom-made red clay tile roof was installed at a cost of $500,000. The new tiles, coincidentally produced by the same company that manufactured the original tiles (Ludowici Company in New Lexington, Ohio) matched the originals in size, shape, color and thickness. Exterior wood trim was refinished and stucco and windows were restored. The reflecting pool at the front of the house was restored and inside the house, all the wood floors were cleaned and refinished. Plaster on the ceilings and walls was repaired extensively. Interior brickwork was stripped of its numerous layers of paint. The art glass in the skylight (as well as other areas) was lovingly restored and reinstalled. The installation of modern mechanical systems, including electrical, plumbing, fire and security, was also completed. To avoid the unsightliness of a traditional boiler or air conditioner, a state-of-the-art geothermal network of underground wells was installed to provide heating and cooling. The final phase of restoration consisted of landscaping the site as Wright envisioned. Research turned up a plot plan in Wright's studio and the resulting new landscaping has seen elm trees once again thriving on the former Burton and Orpha Westcott property.