Springfield’s Frank Lloyd Wright house seeks volunteers, offers training

Visitors ‘realize what an amazing treasure’ Westcott House is, volunteer says.

Credit: Brad Feinknopf

Credit: Brad Feinknopf

Famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright may never have lived in Springfield, Ohio, but a home that he designed and built continues to stand here as testimony to his creative genius.

The Westcott House, located at 1340 East High St., is one of 350 remaining Wright houses in the world and is the only one in Ohio with the primary purpose of serving the public as well as preserving the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Essential to that effort are the volunteers, according to Marta Wojcik, executive director and curator, who said, “It would be impossible to do this without their help.”

A new session of volunteer training kicks off on March 2 for those interested in becoming part of the Westcott House mission and sharing knowledge with others by serving as a docent or guide, museum store volunteer, researcher or community builder.

Training consists of four Saturday sessions to prepare volunteers with knowledge and understanding about Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy, the Westcott family and its place in Springfield history, and important features of the innovative architectural elements of Wright’s Westcott House design.

Current volunteers are happy to share how rewarding and fulfilling their volunteer experience is.

For seasoned volunteer Suzanne Cavazos — a 1980 graduate of Catholic Central High School, Columbus resident and current volunteer — the Westcott House is a source of ongoing discovery.

“I grew up outside of Springfield and used to ride by the house on the bus to school. I’d look at it, in great disrepair, and thought how sad and scary it looked. Our family talked about the house and how it had been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright,” Cavazos recalled. “When I went away to college, moved to other cities and traveled, I realized that not every town had a Frank Lloyd Wright house. What an amazing treasure we have in Springfield and how it ended up here is an important part of the history of this town.”

Ten years ago Cavazos learned that the Westcott House needed volunteers and she jumped at the opportunity.

“Every time I’m in the house I see something new; perhaps how the light shines across the floor, a new perspective from when a visitor asks a question, the marvelous ability to be in the house during different seasons, weather conditions and times of day,” Cavazos said. “Many of our visitors have traveled great distances or have arranged their plans to include a stop at our house. They realize what an amazing treasure the Westcott House truly is.”

Fellow volunteer Rita Lane enjoys the opportunity to interact with visitors from near and far.

“During the tour we share a common interest in history and architecture,” she said. “Their eyes light up when they climb the stairs to see the art glass and enter into the front rooms.”

Fabian Novello of Beavercreek has been volunteering as a docent tour guide since the Westcott House opened as a museum over 18 years ago.

“I enjoy giving tours today as much as when I began,” he said. “I continue to volunteer because the mission of the Westcott Center for Architecture & Design is consistent with my commitment and passion in life. Their mission, ‘To preserve and interpret the Westcott House and to inspire creativity through architecture and design education’ inspires creativity not only in the guests who visit the house or attend programs but in the volunteers as well.”

Many volunteers are amazed at the distance traveled by visitors to Westcott House.

According to volunteer Sue Green of Springfield, she’s had guests from “Poland, Italy, England, Canada, Belarus, Japan, China, Germany, Australia and probably other countries I have forgotten.”

She also noted she’s enjoyed meeting famous visitors who “come for a tour when they have been in town for a performance at Kuss Auditorium at Clark State’s Performing Arts Center or in Dayton.”

She added a bonus of her volunteer experience is “all the wonderful friends I have made through the Westcott House.”

Wojcik said since the Westcott House reopened following the pandemic, the number of visitors has grown. There are currently 60 volunteers who support visitor services. Additional volunteers can help ensure that the Westcott House continues to balance dual roles as a tourist destination and as a community hub for activities for local residents.

“We ask volunteers for a commitment of 4 hours or more on a monthly basis,” Wojcik said. “Our volunteers schedules vary from 4 hours a month to 5 hours a week, so people are able to make a commitment that best fits their schedule.”

Volunteers come from as far away as Cincinnati, Columbus and other outlying areas. Benefits of volunteering include continuing education opportunities, Westcott membership, gift shop discounts, new and lasting friendships, the joy of engaging with local, national and international visitors and helping to advance one of Ohio’s cultural treasures.

For additional information call 937-327-9291 or email an inquiry to mwojcik@westcotthouse.org

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