Webinar to recall Westcott House restoration project

Historic home to reopen for tours this weekend

Looking back on the work that resurrected the Westcott House from near demolition to tourist destination will be the highlight of a webinar as part of the historic Springfield building’s ongoing 15-year anniversary celebrations just ahead of its reopening to the public.

“Saving an American Treasure: The Story of the Westcott House” will be 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 25 on Zoom and is free. The event is a collaborative program with the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy.

READ: New food truck takes coffee, donuts to next level

The Westcott House will reopen to the public on Saturday, June 27.

Designed by celebrated architect Wright as the home for local businessman Burton Westcott and built in 1908, the house had fallen into disrepair in the latter 20th Century and was close to being demolished when the Conservancy and local support transformed the historic landmark.

“We see this house as a success story, that the local community took it on when it was falling apart,” said Marta Wojcik, executive director and curator of the Westcott House who will moderate the webinar.

Several people involved in the restoration will participate including John Landess, executive director of the Turner Foundation, which played a key role in the philanthropic work locally, along with Conservancy members.

The program will include several visuals such as original Wright drawings. This webinar follows another successful online program, a PechaKucha event featuring other Wright-designed structures and was viewed in several foreign countries including Australia, India and the Netherlands.

Visit www.westcotthouse.org and select Programs & Events tab to register for the webinar. It will also be streamed on the Westcott House’s Facebook page and the video will also be available on the site at a later date.

Tours to resume Saturday

The Westcott House will begin offering guided tours again on Saturday by appointment. Wojcik and staff took careful steps, getting advice locally and from other Wright structures on reopening with safety as the priority.

READ: Urbana attorney suspended; charged with domestic violence, assault

The planning included consulting with the Clark County Combined Health District for safety recommendations. Visitors will be required to wear masks, which will be available if they don’t bring them.

“We just want to do everything we can to protect our visitors and our staff,” she said.

All tours will be guided by volunteers and limited to a maximum of eight people. Since there are parts of the house that include smaller bedrooms, the tour has been modified to conform to social distancing requirements.

“The tour is already structured and people are calling us for tours. People are eager to get out,” Wojcik said.

About 85 percent of the house’s visitors are from out of town, Wojcik said. Admissions are a big part of the organization’s income, and adds to the local economy as people spend to eat, shop and do other things during visits.

The museum gift shop is also doing business. Wojcik encourages anyone interested in buying its products to do so online and curbside pickup will be available.

The Westcott House will do tours 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays with guided tours at 11 and 3; 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sundays with guided tours at 11, 1 and 3; and 1-4:30 p.m. Sundays with guided tours at 1 and 3. These may be subject to change.

Admission is $18 for adults and $15 for students and seniors. Tour guidelines are available at www.westcotthouse.org/visiting-during-covid-19.

Self-guided tours are also being considered for later this summer. Staff will take steps to see what works best for guests and keeps everyone involved safe.

“We’re anxious to be open again. The purpose of this house is to have company,” Wojcik said.

There will also be future events relating to the 15th anniversary. For more information, go to www.westcotthouse.org/.

About the Author