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 nine Wright designed residences in Iowa. There is also a bank and hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the state. Of all the Wrights designs in Iowa, Cedar Rock is the only home chosen by Wright to bear his coveted signature tile.
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 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 on the estate since its construction and the structure and furnishings are in good condition. The Walters wished to assure preservation of the residence. They established a private trust fund that has several charitable obligations ahead of, but including Cedar Rock. This year adults are asked to donate $5 to help it in its efforts to assist with operational funding. Your support is not only crucial; it is appreciated by all who enjoy this Wright designed jewel.
New Tour Information
The Walter Residence and the Visitor Center are open to the public Memorial Day Weekend into October, Wednesday through Sunday. Guided tours of the house depart the Visitor Center on the hour from 10:00 a.m. through 3:00 p.m. We request you please reserve your party's tour. All tour requests need size of party, with desired date and time. Include a contact name and telephone number so that we may confirm your selection or possibly reschedule. The park telephone number is 319-934-3572 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-ins are accepted only as space permits. School group tours are available, please contact the park for further information.
To find Cedar Rock (the Frank Lloyd Wright house) from I-380 or Cedar Rapids:
Interstate 380 North from Cedar Rapids.
Exit 380 North at Exit 35 (for town of Center Point)
At end of exit ramp, turn right onto W-6E (formerly Iowa 920) and follow into the town of Center Point. Continue on this road north out of town traveling to the town of Walker.
On the very south edge of Walker drop off this road (just before the highway curves) and begin following road signs for the town of Troy Mills. You are NOT actually going to Troy Mills but by doing this you get to the east side of Walker.
At the east side of Walker turn North/left onto W-35.
Take W-35 through Quasqueton. As the road forks at Quasqueton's north side, stay to the left. Cedar Rock is approximately 1 mile north of Quasqueton on W-35, it will be on your left hand side. (Our portion of W-35 is also signed as the Quasqueton Diagonal Boulevard).
To find Cedar Rock off US Highway 20:
Take exit 261 off US Highway 20 for Winthrop/Quasqueton.
At end of ramp take W-40 (formerly Iowa 282) south to Quasqueton. At the very edge of Quasqueton take a hard right onto Buchanan County Road W-35. (Our portion is also signed as the Quasqueton Diagonal Boulevard).
Cedar Rock is approximately 1 mile north of Quasqueton on your left side.