Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Rebuilding the Wright Stuff: Nebraska Banking Couple Restores One of Famous Architect's "Prairie Houses" after Years of Neglect

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Rebuilding the Wright Stuff: Nebraska Banking Couple Restores One of Famous Architect's "Prairie Houses" after Years of Neglect

Article excerpt

In 1905, construction began on the outskirts of McCook, Neb., on a home for Harvey and Eliza Sutton. It was one of a handful of homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. By all accounts, Eliza Sutton loved the home, an example of Wright's "Prairie House" style. While Harvey Sutton, a jeweler, wrote the checks, she served as de facto general contractor, working with the brilliant yet quirky architect and associates.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Fast forward to 1992. The Sutton House, now near McCook's downtown after decades of sprawl, has seen better days. In the 1930s there was a fire. During World War II, an urgency for housing in McCook, then home to McCook Army Air Field, saw its conversion to apartments. In the 1960s a doctor turned the Sutton Home's open floor plan into a warren of consultation rooms. Wear and tear took its toll.

And then came Van and Jan Korell. "Jan had been looking over the fence at this house for 20 years," says Van, chairman, president, and CEO at $254.1 million-assets AmFirst Financial Services.

Wright's style featured low-pitched roofs and overhanging eaves, with his signature cantilevers in a horizontal theme. On the inside, windows wrap the walls of the Prairie Home--"h brings the outside into the house," says Jan--and, in the original open floor plan, "the rooms flow right into each other."

The home came onto the market, the Korells bought it, and then the "fun" began. Jan, daughter of a builder, had her eyes open. And Van saw how much work--and cash--would be needed to restore Wright's original vision, while updating the plumbing and electricity. …

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