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  • Emilene Leone

The Meier House, Monona, Iowa


Last Saturday, I had the honor to photograph the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Meier House, which has been the subject of the book "This American Life: Frank Lloyd Wright's Meier House and The American-Built System Homes", by the current owners, Jason Loper and Michael Schreiber, as well as the topic of their blog, "This American House" .


When I learned that the Meier House had been listed for sale , I immediately went to my maps app to figure out exactly where Monona, Iowa was, and how far it was from my home in Davenport, Iowa. 2.5 hours, not too bad.


I reached out to Jason Loper to ask if I could come and photograph the home before it sold. He couldn't have been more welcoming or accomodating. A few messages later, and I was on the road to Monona.


The two and a half hours felt like a quick little jaunt for me, since the first leg of it was the Davenport-to-Dubuque route, which I have literally driven hundreds of times throughout my life. Driving on mental autopilot to the sounds of Harry Styles new album, the first part of the drive went quickly. From Dubuque to Monona, I paid a bit more attention to the scenery and sights as I navigated through the beautiful bluffs and valleys of northeast Iowa. Anyone who thinks Iowa is all flat prairie needs to make a trip to this area to see that they will be proven very wrong.


Monona is part of the Driftless Zone , a beautiful region where both Frank Lloyd Wright and I were originally from. It's a familiar landscape to me, with my family having been in the area just as long as Frank Llloyd Wright's family was. A good portion of my ancestors settled on land not that far from Monona, just over the river a bit in southwest Wisconsin. The Driftless Zone always feels like home to me.


I won't offer much commentary on the home itself, because the owners have done such a magnificent job of documenting its history in their book and blog, but I'd like to share some of the images I captured.


It was so beautiful at twilight, truly breathtakingly beautiful when lit from within.





Real estate photographers will often go to great lengths to avoid "warm" images, or photos with a yellowish tint to them. When editing photo of a Frank Lloyd Wright home, I will often adjust the color balance to make the whites look white, but it just seems so sterile, like it sucks the life out of the image, and I immediately warm up the image again. Frank Lloyd Wright homes are anything but cold and sterile. They are warm and I want my images to look like how my memory remembers the room.


The home was warm and lovely and inviting. The living room's star was the fireplace, closely followed in magnificence by the incredible windows.




I really love this next two images. It makes me smile to see photos of Frank Lloyd Wright on the walls of his homes.


The owner of the home had warned me that it might be difficult to photograph the dining room, since it was a smaller room. I assured him it would not be a problem for me, because I have my magical Canon 16-35, an amazing wide angle lens.




The windows along the stairway were an especially beautiful feature.

The owners did not strip the paint off the trim in the upstairs, leaving that project for future owners, if they choose to do it. With the painted trim, the vibe upstairs was a little more modern, not quite as warm and cozy, but still incredibly beautiful, elegant, and minimalist.


The light coming in through the windows of the west-facing bedroom was absolutely incredible.



I imagine that the light coming into the east-facing master bedroom at sunrise must be something to behold as well.

Heading down the hall to a smaller bedroom, I couldn't help but notice that even the cover to the attic access was incredibly beautiful.

A small cozy office. Glancing at the bookshelf, I happened to notice a collection of books about classic Hollywood, and it made my heart happy. Being a huge fan of 1930s Hollywood myself, it always delights me to meet fellow classic film enthusiasts.

The bathroom had seen several renovations, but the original windows remained in place.


The sun set on my photography session, and the owners invited me to stay for some food and conversation, and we had a lovely time, sitting around a fire in their beautiful living room, talking about Frank Lloyd Wright, bonding over our love of 1930s Hollywood, and sharing stories about our lives. I'm absolutely convinced that Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts tend to be some of the most interesting and charming people I'll ever meet. Jason and Michael were incredible hosts, and obviously have a natural knack for----and great love of----entertaining. I left with a memory card full of images I couldn't wait to edit, and new friends.


I really enjoyed photographing this beautiful home.


I'm not sure where I should go next, but I've got the bug again, and hope to find my next destination soon!


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