Grant Manson Research Collection - Oak Park Public Library
Scope and Contents
The Grant Manson Research Collection contains research materials that were utilized for the book “Frank Lloyd Wright to 1910-The First Golden Age.” These include magazine articles on Frank Lloyd Wright, maps of homes Wright built in Oak Park and River Forest; architectural plans, specifications, renderings, and sketches for Wright’s buildings. There are two small boxes with one containing notes on clients and projects of Wright’s to 1910; and the other box containing quotes about Wright from magazines. In addition there are interviews with contemporaries about Frank Lloyd Wright, references to Wright in books, miscellaneous notes, and transcripts.
Other items of note include: a box of correspondence letters from Frank Lloyd Wright, Hugh Morrison (Louis Sullivan’s biographers), Lewis Mumford, Henry Russell Hitchcock, William Walker (the owner of the Winslow house in the later 1930s/early 1940s), William Winslow’s son Paul Winslow, homeowners of Frank Lloyd Wright’s houses, and Wright’s daughter Catherine Baxter; a carbon copy text of the first edition of “Frank Lloyd Wright to 1910-The First Golden Age” and an inscribed copy of the first edition of the book, and an Italian edition. Both the first and Italian editions of the book were inscribed specifically to the Oak Park Public Library. There are also the Wasmuth drawings, list of Fuermann glass negatives, and a collection of photos, Photostats, and other materials that were not used in the book.
Biographical / Historical
Grant Carpenter Manson was a scholar of the works of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Manson was born in Chicago in 1904. He attended Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts where he received his Bachelors of Arts degree and graduated cum laude in 1926.
Manson attended Harvard University, where he received a Masters of Fine Arts in 1940 and a PhD in Fine Arts in 1941. While there, Manson dedicated his studies to the works of Frank Lloyd Wright, making Wright the main subject of his doctoral thesis “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Work Before 1910.” Manson believed it was essential to meet with the famed architect in person in order to understand his work. He first travelled to Spring Green, Wisconsin to meet Wright at his residence in the late 1930s; they would continue to meet as Manson developed his thesis. Manson also took photos from 1937-1941 while conducting his research for his thesis.
Manson enlisted with the Navy after graduation, serving as Lieutenant Commander for Navy Intelligence in Washington, DC and in London during World War II. After the war, he continued intelligence work at the US State Department.
In the early 1950s, while teaching Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania, Manson decided to craft his thesis into a full length book. “Frank Lloyd Wright to 1910-The Golden Age” was published in 1958. The book was considered monumental in that Manson had unprecedented access to Wright and was able to ask him directly about his life and work, rather than offering his own interpretation, as many of his contemporaries had done. From 1961-1969, Manson served as Professor of Fine Arts and Architecture as well as Associate Dean of Fine Arts and Architecture at the University of Southern California. For the remainder of his life he worked as an author and lecturer on Frank Lloyd Wright, visiting Oak Park several times in the 1970s to present on Wright and donate his collection to the Oak Park Public Library.
Manson’s work on Wright was so extensive that the architect once said Manson was the man “who knows more about me than I do.”
Grant Carpenter Manson died in 1997 at the age of 92 in St. Clair, Michigan.
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Language of Materials
The Grant Manson Research Collection was received by the Oak Park Public Library in 1973.
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Part of the Oak Park Public Library Special Collections Repository
834 Lake Street
Oak Park IL 60301 USA