For the past two years or so I have been researching William K. Shilling, an architect working in Springfield Ohio from 1905 to his death in 1939. Shilling supposedly studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and apprenticed with Louis Sullivan around 1892-3 (working on Sullivan’s famed Transportation Building for the World’s Colombian Exposition). I have not, however, found a primary source confirming this. Shilling later moved back to Ohio, working in Mansfield, then Youngstown, before moving to Springfield in 1905. He later published at least two articles in Country Life in America (May 1909 and October 1910) advocating the benefits of open air living (sleeping, dining, and entertaining). This concept was sweeping the country at the turn of the century and found its way into a large number of residential designs. The articles in County Life in America epitomize this idea, incorporating open air elements in every aspect of these Prairie Style designs. The 1910 study even included sleeping porches for the servants – a thoughtful consideration.
If Shilling was in Sullivan’s office in 1892, he would have worked with Frank Lloyd Wright (Shilling told his children that he worked with Wright a couple times during his career). This might explain why the 1910 design is strikingly similar to – if not plagiarising – Wright’s design for the Darwin and Isabelle Martin House from 1904.