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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meeting the Dana of the Dana-Thomas House, October 4, 2011
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Myron Marty (Monticello, IL United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Susan Lawrence: The Enigma in the Wright House (Paperback)
Review of Susan Lawrence: The Enigma in the Wright House, by Roberta Volkmann

Susan Lawrence was an enigma during her lifetime (1862-1946) and she remains one today. Roberta Volkmann's impressive research and gifts as a storyteller, however, enable her to explore her subject's enigmatic features and introduce her readers to a truly fascinating person.

The fascination lies in Susan Lawrence's repeated remaking of herself. She began with many advantages, as she was the only child of a wealthy "intuitive entrepreneur and astute opportunist," as Volkmann portrays her father. His daughter displayed comparable characteristics, and she drew upon them in coping with considerable sadness. She and first husband, Edwin Dana, experienced joy with the birth of two babies, but joy turned to sadness when their offspring died in infancy. After seventeen years of marriage, Edwin was killed in a mining accident. Twelve years later, at age forty-nine, Susan married a twenty-six-year old singer; he died unexpectedly about sixteen months later. Her third marriage, in 1915 led to estrangement and eventually divorce.

But there was more to Susan Lawrence Dana's life than marriages. She was, as Volkmann recounts her activities, a traveler, a socialite, an extraordinary hostess, a community volunteer, a participant in political causes, a philanthropist, a spiritualist who communicated with her deceased father, a believer in astrology, a mystic, and a friend to many--some prominent, some ordinary folk.

One of her friends was Frank Lloyd Wright, and she commissioned him to remodel her father's home in Springfield. Both client and architect were given to extravagance, and when Wright finished his design for the remodeling, only a single room of that house was incorporated into the new one. Thirty-four rooms on sixteen different levels were all new.

Residences designed by Frank Lloyd Wright typically bear the name of the original owner. So the Springfield, Illinois, residence Wright designed for Susan Lawrence Dana in 1902 was called the Dana Residence. When C.C. Thomas purchased it in 1944, he moved his publishing company into it and preserved the building, its remarkable art glass, and most of its Wright-designed furniture. When the Thomas family sold it to the State of Illinois in 1981, the Dana-Thomas name remained.

Visitors to the Dana-Thomas House, past and future, will appreciate the enlightenment this book provides, as will others who like a good story well told. (Note: the building is closed for renovation, with reopening scheduled for late 2011. Virtual tours are available at [...])
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for Susan Lawrence fans, June 2, 2014
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Roberta Volkman has done her homework... For years. Great read for anyone interested in Susan Lawrence , Frank Lloyd Wright or the Dana Thomad house in Springfield , Il. Her book is loaded with facts. I reread it and always learn something new.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Wright Stuff, November 19, 2013
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Fascinating account of the life of the woman who commissioned Wright's "Gesamtkunstwerk" (complete work of art). The only thing that would have been a nice addition to the book is more information about Wright's building process of the house and the response of the Springfield (IL) community while the house was being built and once it was finished.
(I grew up in Springfield and have toured the house both before its restoration and after.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Frank Lloyd Wright Fans Alert, May 23, 2013
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This review is from: Susan Lawrence: The Enigma in the Wright House (Paperback)
This book gives insight to the personality and peculiarities of one of Frank Lloyd's most famous clients. With no regard to cost, the home was built and furnished in what has become known as the "open checkbook" style. Quick and easy read.
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Susan Lawrence: The Enigma in the Wright House
Susan Lawrence: The Enigma in the Wright House by Roberta Volkmann (Paperback - August 3, 2011)
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