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William W. Ray House

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1915, Taylor A. Woolley. 1408 Yale Ave.

The William W. Ray House is located in the Yalecrest neighborhood southeast of downtown Salt Lake City. It was designed by Utah architect Taylor A. Woolley, a former draftsman to Frank Lloyd Wright, who introduced the Prairie Style to his home state when he returned in 1911. Woolley was hired by attorney William W. Ray to design a residence on a long, narrow lot that sloped downward toward Red Butte Creek at the south end. Ray had purchased the lot in the new subdivision in 1913, and construction on the house began two years later, after the neighborhood infrastructure was complete.

Woolley’s plan consists of a two-story, 32-foot-square main block with two single-story extensions. Projecting towards the street on the north elevation is a one-story, hipped-roof office; at the rear or south elevation is a one-story, hipped-roof porch. The design was based on one of Wright’s most imitated residential designs, “A Fireproof House for $5,000,”published in the April 1907 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal. Yet instead of reinforced concrete, the Ray House was constructed of hollow tile block with stuccoed exterior walls. The similarities, however, are evident in the main floor, where the living and dining rooms wrap around a tiled central fireplace. A unifying oak rail about a foot or so below the ceiling runs the perimeter of the living and dining rooms. On the main level, an entry hall and lavatory are located adjacent to the front office.

Bands of four casement windows, as seen in Wright’s design, are visible here on the east and west elevations, although Woolley deviated slightly from Wright with the addition a narrow fixed window on either end. On the south elevation is a pair of French doors framed by casement windows. The second-story stringcourse also functions as the sill for the upper-level fenestration. Here, Woolley deviated again from Wright’s pattern by grouping the casement windows in the corner of each bedroom on this level. Two of the four bedrooms have five casement windows while the master bedroom has six; the smallest bedroom, in the northwest corner, has only four casement windows. The second-story staircase landing is visible on the exterior above the stringcourse on the north elevation; this landing contains four fixed windows. Another deviation from Wright’s second-story plan is the lack of a fireplace and hearth in the master bedroom.

Woolley returned to Chicago in 1915 to work in the office of Francis Barry Byrne and Walter Burley Griffin. He and his wife returned to Salt Lake City in early 1917, where he became partner in the firm of Miller, Woolley and Evans. By this time, the Prairie Style was no longer popular in the state. The Ray House, which remains a private residence, serves as an excellent example of the style.

References

Goss, Peter L. “The Prairie School Influence in Utah.” The Prairie School Review XII, no. 1 (First Quarter 1975): entire issue.

Kruty, Paul. “A Prairie School House in Coastal Maine.” 19th Century 27, no. 2 (Fall 2007): 11-17.

Moller, Tatiana. Utah Historic Site Form, William W. Ray Residence, 1408 Yale Ave., Salt Lake City, March 1976. Utah State Historic Preservation Office, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Storrer, William Allin. The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion.Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

Taylor A. Woolley Papers, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah.

“William W. Ray House.” The Prairie School Traveler. Accessed March 31, 2017. http://www.prairieschooltraveler.com/.

Wright, Frank Lloyd. “A Fireproof House for $5,000.” Ladies Home Journal, April 1907.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Peter L. Goss
Coordinator: 
Shundana Yusaf
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Data

Timeline

  • 1915

    Built

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Citation

Peter L. Goss, "William W. Ray House", [Salt Lake City, Utah], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/UT-01-035-0094.

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