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The Dana-Thomas house is a Frank Lloyd Wright designed home in Springfield, Illinois. It was built between 1902-1904 (an attached library was completed in 1906) and is the best preserved and most complete of Wright's early Prairie Style homes. The house is named after heiress Susan Lawrence Dana and Charles Thomas, who was the second owner. It contains the largest collection of Wright-designed glass artwork and furniture. Today, it is operated by the Dana-Thomas Foundation and owned by the State of Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and is also a National Landmark (1976) and a State of Illinois Landmark.

Front (south) of Dana-Thomas House in circa 2016 photo (Doug Carr, HABS-1188 addendum)

Building, Plant, Window, Cloud

Exterior of Dana-Thomas House in 2012 (Teemu008)

Sky, Building, Window, Plant

Main entrance into Dana-Thomas House in 2019 (Highsmith)

Property, Window, Door, Brickwork

Exterior view of east side of Dana-Thomas House along Fourth St. in 2019 (Carol M. Highsmith)

Plant, Sky, Building, Window

Site plan map of main house (right) with west wing (center bottom); coach house (upper left) in 1984 (HABS-1188, Johnson)

Font, Engineering, Rectangle, Plan

Interior view of Dana-Thomas House in 2007 (Carol M. Highsmith)

Window, Wood, Interior design, Table

Dana-Thomas House on 1917 Sanborn map; red=brick, yellow=wood, D=dwelling (p. 156)

Rectangle, Schematic, Font, Parallel

Susan Lawrence Dana was a socialite and a supporter of women's suffrage. In 1900, Susan and her first husband of sixteen years, Edwin Dana, were in their mid-thirties and were living with her parents at 729 S. 4th St; the Danas had no surviving children. Susan's cousin, Flora Lawrence and a servant also resided in the house. Susan was the only surviving child of her parents, Rheuna Lawrence (age 63, a banker) and Mary Lawrence (59). On the 1900 census, the 301 Lawrence Ave. address (currently assigned to the Dana-Thomas House) was listed after the Lawrence home and was occupied by renters, the family of insurance agent George Stabdell (38); perhaps the rental was a cottage on the property of the mansion. In September 1900, Susan became a widow when Edwin Dana died in an accident at a mine he owned in Oregon. Susan's father died in 1901 followed by her mother in 1905.

Susan inherited a large fortune plus her family's Italianate style mansion, which was on the site of the current house (Lawrence Ave. and 4th St,). She decided to build a new home to entertain guests. The new house was constructed from 1902 to 1904 around the mansion, which was eventually torn town during the process. A library was added in 1906. It consists of 35 rooms and 3 levels. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright was given an unlimited budget by Susan for the new house. The mansion is one of Wright's Prairie School style homes and is considered to be the best-preserved early example. The sprawling house included dozens of pieces of furniture and stained-glass windows specially designed by Wright.

In the 1910 census, a widowed "Susie" Lawrence (age 46) lived off her own income and headed the household on Lawrence Ave. Susie's unmarried cousin, Flora (56) also lived in the house, along with three African-American servants: Ada Bostick (36, cook), Bessie Nelson (22, maid), and Willis D. Hoskins (38, coachman). Susan secretly married Joergen Dahl, a Danish singer who was half her age, in 1912; he passed away in 1913 after a brief illness. Susan married one final time in 1915 to a childhood friend, Charles Gehrmann, but the marriage was soon plagued with problems and the pair separated; they officially divorced in 1930. Susan lived in the house until 1928, when she moved to a small cottage on the grounds; this was the year her cousin, Flora died. Susan became reclusive and suffered from dementia by the 1940s. She was institutionalized in 1942 and her belongings and home were sold to pay off debts. She passed away in 1946.

Charles C. Thomas, a successful medical publisher, bought the house in 1944 and lived there until he died in 1969; his wife remained there until she passed away in 1975. The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency bought the home in 1981 and restored it between 1987-1990. The house was closed to the public temporarily in November 2008 as a cost-cutting measure at state historic sites ordered by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. It underwent another restoration in 2011 and is open regularly for tours.

BjJ. Susan Zane Lawrence Dana (1862-1946), Find a Grave. July 24th, 2007. Accessed December 23rd, 2023.

"Dana-Thomas House".

Illinois Historic Preservation Division. Dana-Thomas House, State Historic Sites: Central Region. December 1st, 2023. Accessed December 22nd, 2023.

Johnson, Brian K. Barrows, David T. Susan Lawrence Dana House, 301 East Lawrence Avenue, Springfield, Illinois, HABS IL-1188. Historic American Buildings Survey. Washington, DC. U.S. Department of the Interior, 1984.

Kluge, Sandra. Lawrence Joergen Dahl (1886-1913), Find a Grave. July 24th, 2007. Accessed December 23rd, 2023.

Kluge, Sandra. Edwin Ward Dana (1863-1900), Find a Grave. July 24th, 2007. Accessed December 23rd, 2023.

National Historic Landmark. 1-7-1976

Pitts, Carolyn. "Dana-Thomas House", National Register of Historic Places. July, 1975.

Saunders, Rhys. "Doors Close at Dana-Thomas House." Review Atlas (Springfield) November 30th, 2008. online ed.

U.S. Census Bureau. Household of Rheura Lawrence at 729 So. 4th St., Springfield district 96, Illinois, dwelling 31, family 31. Washington, DC. U.S. Government, 1900.

U.S. Census Bureau. Household of George Stabdell at 301 Lawrence Ave., Springfield district 96, Illinois, dwelling 32, family 32. Washington, DC. U.S. Government, 1900.

U.S. Census Bureau. Household of Susan Lawrence at 327 Lawrence Ave., Springfield district 144, Illinois, dwelling 15, family 15. Washington, DC. U.S. Government, 1910.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

HABS IL-1188, Library of Congress (LOC):

Carol M. Highsmith Archive, LOC:

Carol M. Highsmith Archive, LOC:

HABS-1188, Susan Lawrence Dana House, drawn by Brian K. Johnson, LOC:

Carol M. Highsmith Archive, LOC: