I think sometimes we get so busy and wrapped up in our day to day lives that we forget about all the wonderful things that surround us in Chicago. I was reminded of this recently when a visiting friend had to drag me to Oak Park to see some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes. Sure, I was mumbling under my breath a bit on the 40 minute drive, complaining that I didn’t have time for this tourist stuff. Once we got there, however, I became mesmerized by the famous American architect’s work.
For those unaware, Frank Lloyd Wright moved from Wisconsin to Chicago in 1887, and just over ten years later he worked and lived in Oak Park. He has been called the greatest American architect of all time by the American Institute of Architects. Wright’s philosophy in designing structures is called “organic architecture,” meaning that he tries to instill a sense of harmony with humanity and its environment. This notion of merging and blending the two is certainly evident in many of the houses he designed in Oak Park, and it’s most notable in his famous 1935 Fallingwater house (the Kaufmann Residence), which was built in part over a waterfall in rural southwestern Pennsylvania.
The first 20 years of Wright’s career can be gazed upon in Oak Park. The town is home to the world’s largest collection of Wright-designed buildings, including his Home and Studio and Unity Temple, a National Historic Landmark. Other notable designs, such as The Rookery (located in Chicago’s financial district), The Robie House (located on the University of Chicago Campus) and the Emil Back House (located in Roger’s Park) also grace Chicago with their presence. Several guided and unguided tour options are available for the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District as well as for the inside of his Home and Studio. Tickets can be purchased inside the museum, which is located at 951 Chicago Avenue in Oak Park. Tours are from 11am-4pm daily.
Learning more about Frank Lloyd Wright, sitting in Unity Temple and seeing several of his designs was truly inspiring. It was a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. We should all feel lucky that we actually live in a city with such amazing history and acclaim right in its backyard. If you haven’t made it to Oak Park yet, you are missing out.
If the works of Frank Lloyd Wright spark your interest, you may be even more excited to learn about The All Wright Housewalk, which is happening May 17, 2014. A ticket to this event can get you inside these fantastic properties so you can view the interiors.
Information taken from: www.gowright.org