Robert Hardin (of Houston) and Frank Lloyd Wright

Was at a happy hour on a Thursday evening a few months ago and one of my tablemates noted somewhat randomly that his grandfather was an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright (Someone asked about how much time he spends in Houston tending to rental properties. He replied that he had to make a special trip to get interviewed by the paper about the property designed by his pawpaw. Who was your pawpaw? I asked, and off we went from there...).

Grandpa's name was Robert Hardin, and indeed he appears as an early apprentice to Wright in his Chicago Prairie House phase in the late 1800s/earliest 1900s.

Hardin is also mentioned in one of Wright's articles, In the Cause of Architecture, along with Marion Mahony, William Drummond, Francis Byrne, Isabel Roberts, George Willis, Walter Burley Griffin, Andrew Willatzen, Harry Robinson, Charles E White, Jr, Erwin Barglebaugh, and Albert McArthur (he of the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix). 

Pawpaw gets a mention in a letter from Charles E. White Jr. to “Walter” send on March 4, 1906:

“Hardin is a new man, who left the University of Illinois after one year. His tuition was paid by a fellow townsman in Texas, who has thrown him over since he has become so “degraded” as to go into Wright’s.”

The article and photo below appears in the neighborhood newsletter:

And here are some shots from Google streetview:

I don't find any other footprint of Mr. Hardin on the interwebs, so I'm not aware of any other structures he designed. 


  1. I had a law professor who was the closest thing I've met to Jay Gatsby, and one time in class he told a story about a pillow at his "esteemed uncle's ranch." He said it so casually that you'd never know, unless you knew, that his esteemed uncle was Lyndon Johnson.

  2. O, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Another hot mess.