CEDAR ROCK STATE PARK
When Iowa businessman Lowell Walter died in August of 1981, he and his wife, Agnes, left their dream home, Cedar Rock, to the Iowa Conservation Commission and the people of Iowa. Designed by the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the residence lies on a limestone bluff overlooking the Wapsipinicon River near Quasqueton in Buchanan County.
The Walter house was one of Wright's most complete designs. Nearly everything at Cedar Rock bears the architect's imprint. Wright designed the furniture, selected the carpets, chose the draperies and even picked out the accessories. Cedar Rock was begun in 1948 and completed in 1950. It's roof and floors are concrete; the walls are brick, glass and walnut. Cedar Rock is one of seven residences Wright designed in Iowa.
The Walter house is an example of a simplified style of house Frank Lloyd Wright developed and called "Usonian". The plan for the Walter house follows the characteristic "tadpole" form, typical of Wright's Usonian homes - the bedroom wing of the house constituting the tail of the "tadpole" and the living/dining room the head. The house is one story and the overall length is about 150 feet. Everything about the Walter residence is compact and efficient - everything, that is, but the combination living/dining room which Wright called "the Garden Room". The Garden Room covers more than 900 square feet and has a fireplace which can hold five-foot logs.
The view of the river and wooded valley, through the Garden Room's three glass walls, is breathtaking. Glass doors open directly from living areas to ground-level terraces. Natural light fills the house. Broad overhangs with upturned edges soften sunlight and shade the glass walls. There are openings in the overhangs covered with vines for summer shade. Clerestory windows, or "skylights", are incorporated in every room to brighten interior spaces and release hot air trapped near the ceiling. Recessed artificial lighting creates the effect of natural light, even at night.
The Walters were justifiably proud of Cedar Rock. Very little has been altered in the house since its construction and the structure and furnishings are in good condition. The Walters have assured preservation of the residence by providing a trust fund for the perpetual maintenance of the property.