History & Culture

Fact or Fiction? Did Architect Frank Lloyd Wright Invent Lincoln Logs?

Did the master builder leave a miniature legacy in the toy department? Find out. . .

Frank Lloyd Wright Photo

Wright stuff: architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s son John Lloyd Wright invented the classic building toy, Lincoln Logs.  

American architect Frank Lloyd Wright left his mark on American history with his designs of iconic buildings including the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and  Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, but did the master builder also invent Lincoln Logs? Fiction: A Wright did invent the classic toy − not Frank, but his son John Lloyd. 

Lincoln Logs Photo

John Lloyd Wright’s Lincoln Logs incorporate interlocking timbers his father used to earthquake-proof the Imperial Hotel. 

The second son of Frank, John Lloyd was also an architect who worked with his father on the design and construction of Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel. After an argument over John Lloyd’s salary, however, Frank fired his son, and that family squabble led to a new career for the younger Wright. In 1917, he began constructing wooden toys, incorporating interlocking timbers his father had used to earthquake-proof the Imperial Hotel. John Lloyd called his invention Lincoln Logs because they could be modeled into toy cabins resembling the childhood home of Abraham Lincoln

John Lloyd founded the Red Square Toy Company, named after the symbol that became his father’s signature logo. He patented Lincoln Logs in 1920, and 23 years later the toy company Playskool bought his invention. While the younger Wright may not have been a master architect like his father, he left a happy legacy for little builders. 

From the Bio Archives: This article was originally published on July 30, 2015.