THE LAST HOUSE 

In the last year of his life, Frank Lloyd Wright designed a second house for the Penfields. The plans for this home arrived the week of Mr. Wright’s funeral in April 1959. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation assigned number 5909 to the project making it, numerically, Mr. Wright’s last residential commission. More importantly, it is the only unbuilt Wright design with its original building site still available. Designed to be built of stone gathered from the nearby Chagrin River, Mr. Wright suggested the house be called “Riverrock”.

Riverrock House, now a non-profit organization, is committed to the completion and sustainability of Frank Lloyd Wright’s last residential commission. When built, the house will enhance public awareness of ecologically sound building practices. It will serve as a model for innovative building solutions in the future.
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- This presentation drawing was received shortly after Mr. Wright’s death in 1959

The two Wright-designed homes will be sited approximately 350’ apart on 30 wooded acres along the Chagrin River in northeast Ohio. The rolling terrain crosses woods, meadows and wetlands. It is home to an impressive variety of wildlife, including the bald eagle which has made a comeback in the region and can be seen fishing along the river. In 1995, the property was placed in the American Tree Farm System; cherry, walnut and locust trees from the forest were used to restore the first Penfield House and will be used in the construction of Riverrock House, making both houses truly “of the land”.

Phase I – Restore the first Wright-designed house, Louis Penfield House, and open it to the public for overnight stays. Use part of the income earned to provide seed money for Riverrock House. List the house with the National Register of Historic Places. Develop natural gas reserves for long-term energy sustainability. Penfield House opened in 2003 and has been reserved to 85% capacity since then. Our national and international guests often patronize area businesses who report increased sales due to Penfield House visitors. Phase I is now complete.

Phase II – Create a 501(c)3 non-profit organization to build Riverrock House. Develop a Board of Directors to guide the fundraising, construction and future vision of this unprecedented opportunity. Our intention is to open Riverrock to the public for tours, special events and overnight accommodations. This is the current phase of development.
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Riverrock model built by architects David Smith, David Jaditch
& Gregory R. Seifert. It is at the Willoughby Library.
Phase III – Develop a national center for sustainable design with the two Wright houses as a nucleus. Construct an architecturally innovative third building for the landscaped 30 acre campus. This new structure will be used to promote environmentally sound building practices through education and research. It will house administrative offices, classrooms, reception area and gift shop. This is the vision for the properties ultimate use.

Since this is Frank Lloyd Wright’s last residential commission, our goal is to bring Mr. Wright’s visionary thinking into the 21st century. He coined the phrase “house beautiful” in the early 20th century to refer to a principle of architectural and social reform through which the quality of life can be enhanced by good design. We believe those words to be as true today as they were then.

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