Llewellyn Wright House: Bethesda, MD

Alright, alright alright.  I've heard it enough times from people.  What kind of Wright fanatic can I be if I haven't even photographed a Wright home that is 16 miles from my house?  I thought I'd go about fixing that problem.  I had a few hours to myself on Sunday, so I thought I'd see what kind of photos I could get since there weren't any pesky leaves to obstruct my view.  

As close as I dared go.  I believe I'm still on park property for this photo

This beautiful home was built in 1953 in Bethesda, Maryland, a diverse suburb to the Northwest of Washington, DC. I call it diverse because in places it is densely populated and very urban and in others it is almost rural, with thick woods and lots of space between houses.  The latter describes the neighborhood where the Llewellyn Wright house is located.

Robert Llewellyn Wright is the sixth child of Frank Lloyd Wright from his first marriage.  According to William Allin Storrer's book "The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion", Llewellyn had admired many of his father's more impressive designs, yet when it came to building his own home, budget and space requirements dictated a Usonian, Solar Hemicycle design.  

Also according to Storrer, Wright (the elder) wanted to locate the home in Northern Virginia, along the Potomac River.  He coveted the site owned by Louis Marden, for whom he was designing a home for at the same time he was designing his son's. Mr. Wright could not convince Marden to give up his lot, so Llewellyn's home was built in in Bethesda.  The two homes are very similar in design, and both fit their respective lots perfectly. 

Looking up at the Llewellyn Wright home from the park below

As a side note, I've tried to visit the Marden house on many occasions.  The owner has changed the street address to the home and it is in an area that is difficult to see from the car.  I need to go over on bicycle in hopes of being able to see the home without trespassing.

Southeast side just above the first floor terrace.

Llewellyn Wright's Solar Hemicycle is a little different from others that I've seen (Jacobs II and Boulter).  Instead of the house being placed into a hill, with the windward side almost buried to the roof line,  this home has 2 stories above ground all the way around the house and a dramatic balcony on the park side of the home. 

Football shape is sort-of visible from above.

Instead of being crescent shaped, or straight, the home is actually football-shaped.  The first floor has a large, semicircular patio with a plunge pool at one side.  The second floor has a pie-shaped balcony that looks down into the woods.  This balcony is almost completely concealed by trees.  In fact the whole house is mostly concealed by trees.  In any season but Winter, you'd never see the home.  In fact I'd ridden past it on many occasions on my mountain bike and didn't know it was there. 

Southwest side of the house right below the balcony

The construction is concrete block with the upper floors covered in wood.  The lines of the wood emphasize the horizontal line of the house and add warmth to the gray of the concrete blocks. 

West side of the house. The balcony is barely visible to the right.

Unlike the other Hemicycles that I've seen, this home has two distinct levels that don't seem to overlap.  In both the Boulter and Jacobs II houses, the first floor has the main living space and work spaces (kitchen, bathroom, storage) and the bedrooms and private baths are located on a balcony that overlooks the first floor.  This is not the case with the Llewellyn Wright house.  Because of its size (it seems quite small) there isn't room to have that overlooking balcony setup. 

On the grounds below the house, there is a strange concrete form that looks like it might be of Wright's creation.  It looks as though it might have been built in the early 1950s.  I have no idea what this was originally, but it was kind of interesting to stumble across.

I'll come back and visit the home in the Spring and see what it looks like... if I can even see it. :)

Return to FLW in Maryland Page

Return to main FLW Roadtrip Page