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Potluck: Bringing the Outdoors In

Newton, Iowa


Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner
and Mary Gottschalk

John H. Howe was one of the original members of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship — a group of young apprentices who worked with Wright in Wisconsin — and became known as “the pencil in Frank Lloyd Wright’s hand” for the better part of three decades. But he was a successful architect in his own right for another 30 years. More than 75 of his residential designs were built across the Midwest.

The Illinois-born architect referred to his first house as Larkwing. The 1958 home in Newton is classic Usonian — long and low, tucked under the trees, with glass walls that offer a stunning view. But it is not a Frank Lloyd Wright house. “It is comfortable and practical in a way that few of Wright’s houses are,” says Marjorie Denniston.

She and her husband, Bryant, sought out Howe in the mid-1950s because they liked Prairie Style but sought a beautiful home rather than an architectural showpiece. They wanted a house that offered the feeling of being outdoors, and Howe’s work incorporated his philosophy that the landscape should determine the design. They found the architect flexible and easy to work with.

An abstract sculpture that resembles a bird’s wing dominates the entry hall, giving a nod to the natural environment and a name to the home. “It makes perfect sense,” notes Walt Smith, the current and second owner of the house. “I’m constantly inspired by the many birds I see around the property.” — M.G.

John H. Howe, Architect — a documentary exploring Howe’s career, including Larkwing, is scheduled for release in the fall of 2012. Learn more online at > What’s New. Photos of additional Howe designs are part of a Flickr group pool, online at > John H. Howe architecture > Groups > John H. Howe architecture.

Photos courtesy John Clouse and Rob Barros


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