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Collection Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey

Idaho to Iowa

Post Office Block (Boise Basin Museum), Idaho City, Idaho.

East (front) elevation. Photograph by Duane Garrett, 1976.
(Reproduction Number: HABS ID,8-IDCI,10-1)

When Idaho City's post office burnt to the ground in 1867, work on this new building began almost immediately. Completed in less than one month, the new post office and general store incorporated many fire-prevention measures, including metal shutters and doors. The new building also featured an attic floor of brick covered with earth for extra fire protection. Today, the building is the Boise Basin Museum, which is dedicated to Idaho’s Gold Rush.

Frederick C. Robie House, Chicago, Illinois.

South facade from southwest. Photograph by Cervin Robinson, August 18, 1963.
(Reproduction Number: HABS, ILL,16-CHIG,33-2)

The Robie House has the distinction of being the most frequently requested structure in the HABS and HAER collections. When Frederick C. Robie, a 33-year old engineer and bicycle manufacturing company president, wanted to build a new house, he sought out Frank Lloyd Wright. One of the best known of Wright's early Prairie houses, it was completed in 1909 and remains an icon of the modern movement in architecture.

Captain Charles L. Shrewsbury House, Madison, Indiana.

General view of circular stair, first floor, from the north. Photograph by Jack E. Boucher, September 1971.
(Reproduction Number: HABS IN,39-MAD,1-11)

This beautiful freestanding spiral staircase climbs from the first floor to the attic of the Captain Charles L. Shrewsbury House. Both the staircase and the house were designed by the architect Francis J. Costigan, a native of Baltimore who had moved to Indiana in 1837. Captain Shrewsbury, a wealthy shipping merchant who owned a fleet of Ohio River steamboats, raised his family of six children in this house and often welcomed state officials and other prominent citizens as his guests.

Woodbury County Courthouse, Sioux City, Iowa.

Detail of [Interior, rotunda, general view from east. Photograph by Jack E. Boucher, November 1976.]
(Reproduction Number: HABS IOWA,97-SIOCI,3-17)

Completed in 1918 to designs by Purcell & Elmslie, the Woodbury County Courthouse is a rare example of a Prairie style design for a large public building. The Prairie style is known for its bold and simple geometric forms and distinctive ornamentation inspired by nature, and was made famous by Louis Sullivan and his student Frank Lloyd Wright, key figures in the Prairie school who developed systems of abstracting architectural decoration from sources in nature. The term Prairie style refers to the style’s origins in the American Midwest, and its evocation of that region’s fertile prairies and flat terrain. The interior rotunda shown here is the focal point of the courthouse. It incorporates simple rectangles and squares with a stained glass dome and uses terra cotta ornament reminiscent of the prairie.