Under the direction of chief executive officer Lin Erickson, wife of Wittenberg University President Mark Erickson, ongoing renovations to the historic Westcott House, near downtown Springfield, are connecting Wittenberg students with the Springfield community. The project provides extraordinary opportunities for internships, career avenues and hands-on learning beyond the classroom.
Built in 1908, The Westcott House is named for its first owner, Burton J. Westcott, an early 20th-century automaker. Designed by world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the house has a distinctive open floor plan, beautiful oak woodwork and was the only prairie-style home in Ohio for many years.
Erickson, who assumed her position in August 2005, has set several ambitious goals for The Westcott House.
“Our vision for the future is to become a leading Frank Lloyd Wright house museum, a center of excellence for design and innovation, and an integral part of the educational infrastructure of the region,” she said.
To encourage student involvement with the Westcott House, three internships are available this spring for the following positions: PR/marketing based at ArtsInterface, assistant curator (art or history background required) and educator to develop and pilot test a K-12 curriculum.
The assistant curator will be responsible for overseeing the docent program, including organizing lectures and programs to expand docent knowledge of history and architecture and leading daily tours for visitors. Working with landscape designers/master gardeners, he/she will also develop and pilot test the spring garden tour.
In partnership with area teachers, art/architecture and history professionals, and Westcott House staff, the education intern will develop, pilot test and evaluate two distinct tours and related activities for elementary and middle school students.
In addition, Erickson has proposed four Wittenberg Center for Applied Management (WittCAM) projects, ranging from evaluating the expansion of the retail operation to advertising the museum shop and facility rental businesses. WittCAM provides upper-level management students the opportunity to act as business consultants and work in an applied manner.
Wittenberg students and recent alumni are already involved with the Westcott House. Emily Rottenborn earned her degree in history (with a minor in art history) from Wittenberg in 2005, and she was recently hired to work on the Westcott House project. Jacob Thomas, who earned his degree in communication in 2005, is currently an intern directing the development of the facility rental business.
The Westcott House project fuses together similar ideas from the DaVinci Center. Erickson hopes the house will develop into an educational center that promotes creativity and innovation in universities, businesses and non-profit enterprises.
“The exciting part is shaping a vision for the future that can have a significant impact on the community,” she said.
Part of that vision includes promoting the use of the design process to develop skills in creative and critical thinking, problem solving, communication and teamwork. Erickson also hopes to inspire lifelong learning and engage individuals of all ages in multi-disciplinary learning experiences. In particular, Erickson hopes to collaborate with Wittenberg’s nationally recognized East Asian studies program. The architecture of the house was heavily influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s first trip to Japan in 1905.
“With Wittenberg’s strength in East Asian Studies, we have a unique opportunity to explore in-depth how Japanese art and architecture influenced the design of The Westcott House,” she said. “The Westcott House puts Wittenberg and Springfield on the map for Frank Lloyd Wright and architecture enthusiasts across the United States and around the world.”
The house represents the first phase of plans for a Design Innovation Campus. Four complementary buildings to be situated behind the house are proposed. Designers of the campus include Chicago architect Stanley Tigerman and young architects from Columbus and Dayton. Erickson will be fund-raising for the Design Innovation Campus, which will provide visitors an exceptional opportunity to learn about design, architecture and Springfield’s rich heritage of innovation.
“Our dream is for The Westcott House to be a learning laboratory for design and innovation — a place where recent graduates become seasoned professionals and college students gain valuable practical experience,” Erickson said.
- Sarah Gearhart '06
- Leslie Banas '06
• Westcott House Web Site
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