The Cooley House was designed in 1908 for entrepreneur Gilbert Brian ‘Captain’ Cooley of Monroe, Louisiana, by internationally acclaimed architect Walter Burley Griffin. The home was not built until 1925-26.
The Cooley House is constructed of concrete with wood trim and a green tile roof. The home also had a central vacuum system, central steam heating, an incinerator, a steam shower, and a sunken tub. Though non-functioning, these, as well as the original cork floor, are still in place. The home also has a detached carport. This was not part of the original 1908 plans, but in the teens Cooley became the first person in Monroe to own an automobile, and the structure was added to 1925 revisions.
The Cooley House is Griffin’s last structure to be completed in the United States, and it is one of the last surviving examples of Prairie School residential architecture in the South. Among architects and historians it is also noted for combining elements of Griffin’s American and Australian periods.
Cooley lived in his dream home until his death in 1952. When his widow died in 1955, the home was sold to Donald C. Hughes. The home became apartments and then law offices (Johnson, Johnson, Johnson, and Osborn and later Jones & Johnson) before being purchased by the G.B. Cooley Board of Commissioners in 2000.
The Cooley House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places at a level of state importance in 1986 and a level of national importance in 2010. In 2006 it was added to the list of Top 10 Most Endangered Sites by the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation.
In 2008, the City of Monroe purchased the property and entered into a cooperative agreement with The Cooley House Foundation for the restoration of the historic home and gardens. The property will be owned by the City of Monroe, which will also provide staff. The Cooley House Foundation is raising the funds for restoration of the property and will provide on-going board support when the home is opened as a museum.
Read Expanded History
Foreman, Larry. Special Collections, Ouachita Parish Public Library.
Galicki, Marta McBride. “Walter Burley Griffin’s Oeuvre in the South,” Master Thesis, The Florida State University School of Visual Arts, December 1981.
Kruty, Paul. “The Gilbert Cooley House, 1925: Walter Burley Griffin’s Last American Building,” FABRICATIONS: The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand 6 (June 1995): 8-23.
Kruty, Paul and Mati Maldre. Walter Burley Griffin in America. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996.
Legler, Dixie and Christian Korab. Prairie Style: Houses and Gardens by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang.
The News-Star, Monroe, Louisiana, multiple articles.