The FLW Building Conservancy Comes to Town

May 6, 2012 § 2 Comments

My concerns about my ability to lead Frank Lloyd Wright experts through the Dana-Thomas House were totally unfounded. I took two groups from the The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Spring 2012 Out and About Wright event through the house Saturday, and they were all delightful! Many expressed interest in buying my book, so I liked them even more.

The Conservancy is a lifeline for Frank Lloyd Wright sites that are in danger in some way. Its mission is to facilitate the preservation and maintenance of the remaining structures designed by Frank Lloyd Wright through education, advocacy, preservation easements and technical services. Founded in 1989 (just a year before the state of Illinois re-opened the restored Dana-Thomas House), the organization has a remarkable record. It has played a crucial role in saving many houses and in supporting countless other preservation efforts.

Their presence in Springfield this week-end brought to the attention of the local media an issue that is of great concern to those of us who care about the Dana-Thomas House. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Federal Railroad Administration are reviewing the possibility of routing the high speed trains that will be going through Springfield on the tracks just behind the Dana-Thomas House. The problem was summed up in this excerpt from a Friday morning news broadcast on WUIS, Springfield’s public radio station:

The lot on which the Dana-Thomas House sits is less than 40 feet from Springfield’s 3rd Street rail line. Currently 35 trains pass through Springfield each day on three separate tracks across the city. Studies show traffic is expected to more than double by 2020, and an option being considered by the IDOT and the Federal Railroad Administration would see a second track built next to the Dana-Thomas House to accommodate as many as 72 trains each day.[For a full transcript of the broadcast, click here.]

Some contend that the vibration from such traffic could cause damage to the Dana-Thomas House. The release of the report by IDOT which will recommend which rail corridor will accommodate the high speed rail through Springfield is expected at the end of May. That report will be followed by public hearings, and IDOT will issue a Record of Decision in December. It is assuring that we have world renowned preservationists through the Conservancy behind us if we must face yet another challenge to preserve and protect the house. I’ll keep blogging updates.

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§ 2 Responses to The FLW Building Conservancy Comes to Town

  • Richard Herndon says:

    I wonder how many trains went past the house on a busy day in Susan’s lifetime. Surely more than 35, but not high speed. Is there still discussion about building overpasses so cars won’t be impeded by the rail traffic? That would be perhaps worse for the Dana-Thomas House than the trains themselves, as it would significantly block the view of the house from Lawrence St.

    • susanandme says:

      As I understand it, the trains moved very slowly in Susan’s day so that folks could flag them down to go to St. Louis or Chicago. That was one advantage of living on the railroad tracks. I haven’t read anything about the overpass in the press lately. I’ll try to keep on top of this issue.

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