The Volk house is an excellent example of the larger Craftsman style house found in Madison. The Craftsman and Prairie styles sprang from the same background – the Arts and Crafts movement begun in England by William Morris and his contemporaries. The movement was a reaction against the Victorian machine age, in which machines could produce nearly every kind of ornamental work imaginable inexpensively and in huge numbers. Morris promoted the tenet that artistic and hand-made work was far superior to that cranked out by machine. Frank Lloyd Wright and his fellow architects and designers carried the torch in midwestern America, promoting plain buildings intentionally lacking in historic style that expressed the horizontality of the prairie and the beauty of hand-crafted materials, such as mosaic tile and leaded glass. On the East Coast, Gustav Stickley and others promoted similar values for architecture, but without the horizontal prairie lines.

Thus, the Volk house has the simple lines and lack of historic detail of such Prairie houses in Nakoma as the Lloyd Jones house (site 3), but without the horizontal emphasis. The beauty of the Craftsman design lies in its fine proportions and a lack of ostentation that expresses modernity and comfort.

Frederick Volk was the librarian of the UW College of Engineering when this house was built.



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