The Meyer May House in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was originally designed for a prominent clothier in the city. The house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1908 and is considered to be an excellent example of the Prairie School era. It was later bought by Steelcase and thoroughly restored, and in 1987 the house was opened to the public to visit and explore an original Prairie House.
Today, the Meyer May House is filled with meticulously executed reproductions and original furnishings, and offers a rare chance to experience a Prairie House exactly as was intended by Frank Lloyd Wright. The connection between Frank Lloyd Wright and Steelcase started in 1936, when Steelcase entered into a contract to create furniture designed by Wright for the Johnson Wax Administration Building in Racine, Wisconsin.
The relationship that was forged by Frank Lloyd Wright and David Hunting, Sr. of Steelcase during the S.C. Johnson project was one that lasted for years and Steelcase was encouraged by Hunting to buy and restore the Meyer May House in the 1980s. The house, built in the hometown of Steelcase, was the first significant commission for Wright in Michigan. The chairman of Steelcase at the time, Robert C. Pew, was in agreement that the restoration of the Meyer May House would be a great opportunity to provide the people of Grand Rapids with a gift as well as a way to pay homage to Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1985, Steelcase bought the house and began extensive research into its restoration. The Meyer May House is now maintained and owned by Steelcase.
In 1987, the Meyer May House was opened to the public after being meticulously restored. It took months of intensive studying of reference materials and interviews before the restoration process could begin to return both the exterior and the interior to their original designs. The process lasted two years, and included removing an addition from 1922, restoring a Niedecken mural that had been underneath six layers of paint, and replacing every plaster ceiling. The restoration also included repairing and cleaning over 100 skylights and art glass windows as well as rebuilding the house's roof to restore it to its cantilevered design. The interior of the Meyer May House was filled with recreations of original pieces and exact reproductions and the landscape was also redone to recreate the landscape design from 1909.
Tours of the Meyer May House are offered from 1:00pm to 4:00pm on Sundays, and from 10:00am to 1:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There is no admission fee to explore the house, and visitors are advised to allow for at least 90 minutes to fully tour the house and enjoy the entire experience. To complete their experience at the Meyer May house, there is a film available entitled The Renewing of a Vision
Back to: Grand Rapids, MI
450 Madison Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503, Phone: 616-246-4821
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