Samara

Winged Seed

One of the most complete Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the United States, Samara offers national and international visitors rare immersive insight into Wright’s Usonian design philosophy.

Samara, West Lafayette
Samara, the John and Catherine Christian House, in West Lafayette (Photo: Lee Lewellen)

Years in the Making

The story of Samara is one of a young couple aspiring to a dream home designed by one of America’s most famous architects. Today, tucked into a quiet neighborhood in West Lafayette, that home is an exceptional example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian houses, which the architect defined as a sensible, modest, uniquely American dwellings.

In 1950, Dr. John and Catherine Christian reached out to Frank Lloyd Wright, who took their commission on the condition that the couple would fully implement his design, inside and out, even if it took years. During a visit to Taliesin, Catherine gave the famous architect a 28-page booklet, “What We Need for How We Live,” detailing the couple’s space needs and how they would use each room—from family gatherings to hosting faculty and students from nearby Purdue University, where Dr. Christian was a Bionucleonics professor.

The Christians worked with Wright over a period of five years (1951-1956) to develop detailed design and construction plans—from landscape and exterior details to specific interior furnishings including china, bed linens, and even the toilet paper holder.

Wright called the house Samara after the winged seeds produced by the site’s evergreens and repeated an abstract version of the winged seed design motif throughout the interior and exterior of the house. Today, Samara is notable as one of the most complete, fully implemented Wright-designed projects.

Indiana Landmarks led a years-long effort to get Samara designated a National Historic Landmark, a distinction it finally earned in 2015.

Today, Indiana Landmarks co-stewards Samara with the John E. Christian Family Memorial Trust. In 2022, Indiana Landmarks launched a comprehensive restoration project to address structural issues and update aging environmental systems to protect the home’s extensive collection of Wright-designed furnishings. The $1.6 million project is funded by a $500,000 Save America’s Treasures grant from the National Park Service, the John E. Christian Family Memorial Trust, Inc., and private donations.

Samara is closed to public tours during the restoration, but it will reopen in spring 2023. For additional details, visit www.samara-house.org.