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ashbourne, United Kingdom
February 10, 2013
From journal More around Illinois
by Wildcat Dianne
January 28, 2007
Frank Lloyd Wright completed the Unity Temple around 1906 after a 1900 fire destroyed the original temple. Wright was a member of the Unity Temple and was asked to design the new temple after the fire on a $40,000 budget. Using concrete and metal reinforcements, Wright designed a modern temple that was practical and went against the Gothic architecture of several of Oak Park's churches. I didn't go inside the temple, but I found the outside of the Unity Temple very imposing and different from many of the churches that I have visited in Europe and the US. The church has services every Sunday and tours daily for about $8. Unity Temple is also gay friendly for members of the gay and lesbian community who want to attend church there.
Another of my favorite FLW buildings in Oak Park was the Moore-Dugal Residence. It is still a private residence, so tours are not available, but one can look at it from the outside and marvel at its half-timbered exterior and beauty. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Moore-Dugal home in 1895 after he left the Adler & Sullivan firm to strike out on his own. This home was his first independent commission, and it is gorgeous. Unfortunately, an early morning fire destroyed much of the third and fourth floors of this house on December 23, 1922, and Frank Lloyd Wright returned from his work out of town immediately to begin redesigning and reconstructing the home in 1923. So what you see is the reconstructed home and not the original.
I highly recommend taking an independent walking tour of Oak Park to see many of the Victorian, Prairie, and Wright homes in the area. Most of them are private homes, but you can admire them from afar and enjoy their beauty.
From journal An Architectural and Historical Adventure in Oak Park
Upon arriving at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, you are greeted by several statues on the outside of the house and a beautiful garden in between the buildings. Tours of the home and studio are hourly, and you can get your tickets ($9 for adults) in the Gingko Bookstore, the souvenir shop. Photography isn't allowed in the studio and home, so you must check in all backpacks, cameras, and purses in the lockers located in the garden before going on tour.
After waiting about 20 minutes for the next tour to begin, we were greeted by our guide, Ted Smith, a retired Oak Park history teacher. You can tell that Ted loves his job as a volunteer for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation by his enthusiasm while showing us around the Wright complex and regaling us with stories and trivia questions about Wright's life and career.
Frank Lloyd Wright began his architectural career in Oak Park in 1889. He was a newlywed and built his home as a small cottage which went through numerous remodels and reconstructions in the next 20 years. Wright hated the ornate trimmings and stiffness of Victorian architecture and wanted to design homes and furniture that was nice to look at, but functional. Wright experimented with several styles and shapes in his home, which was expanded to house Wright, his wife, and six children.
I found that many of the rooms give an optical illusion when you step in. The barrel-shaped children's room is long and narrow, but it is bigger than you think when you step inside. Wright designed his showroom for clients in an octagonal shape with many windows to give the room a lot of light for showing clients his architectural plans.
Scandal drove Frank Lloyd Wright from Oak Park in 1909 when he had an affair with a friend's wife. He fled to Europe for a while, but returned to Oak Park a couple of years later. Some people never got Wright's architectural style, but critics and fellow architects loved it and emulated it in their work.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio is open from 11am to 3pm daily and only guided tours are available and leave on an hourly basis. Tours last about 45 minutes and are well worth your time.
by smmmarti guide
July 9, 2003
After taking an official tour lead by knowledgeable volunteers at the Oak Park Home and Studio these images, a glimpse into the flamboyant character of a creative genius, will linger.
With an almost compulsive dedication to the principle that form follows function, along with other innovative and original concepts, including the introduction of Japanese art and design, the Prairie school of architecture was established here by Frank Lloyd Wright. At the birthplace of it all, concepts, history, and early examples of the architect’s emerging style are enthusiastically shared with visitors.
America’s best-known and revered architect attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison, School of Architecture for one year before he decided he knew enough to design buildings. With his boss’ generous $5,000 loan, he bought a tract of land in the wide open prairies west of Chicago, married the woman who would be mother of their six children, and designed his first home at the ripe age of twenty.
Stories of Wright’s children and a visit to their stupendous playroom reveals how dear family was to Mr. Wright. Touring through the personal home of the man who reinvented an art form is moving; the intimate contact with the fixtures, murals, art glass and furnishings, a rare treat. The German building blocks little Frank toyed with as a child are particularly poignant.
Love of family and personal reminders of the extent of Wright’s contribution to art and architecture easily counterbalances some less seemly aspects of his history. In spite of the generous loan started his illustrious career, Wright famously built bootleg houses - likely as much to halt the proliferation of Victoriana (a style that Wright despised so deeply that he altered his window heights to block the sight of the neighbors’ homes) as anything. Regardless of his motivation, the result of his over-ambition was to be fired from the famous firm of Louis Sullivan.
Clearly, Wright was not only a bold genius at design and innovation, he was also a master of self-promotion and marketing. Sooner or later he would have to emerge independently.
His firm, located beneath the family home, is a stunning example of form and function, as you‘d expect. As creativity ground zero, hotbed of innovation, school for Wright proteges, one almost feels the lingering presence of creative giants in the room today - specters bent over drafting boards, churning out ideas ever new in the form of breathtaking designs.
Examples of Wright’s work is evident all over Oak Park. Following the tour, take map in hand, (sold at various outlets around town) and visit numerous examples under a canopy of giant shade trees. After experiencing the insights gleaned from the tour, it will be easy to imagine Mr. Wright looking back from behind a signature leaded glass window.
Yes, Frank, it’s all about you.
From journal Chicago Summer Classics
Madison Heights, Michigan
September 29, 2005
Entry tickets cost $12 per person and include a guided tour through the home and studio of Frank Lloyd Wright. Stories are told of how and when Frank bought the home, built the furniture, or modified the rooms to his liking. You learn about when he built the studio and how he used to travel to work from home to studio. There are pictures you can view of his family and children in an upstairs room, but you are not allowed to take photos inside the house or studio at all.
There is a large locker when you check in for your tour to put your belongings. They ask that you don’t carry bags and totes through the home as not to bump into anything or possibly damage any furniture.
The tour lasts about 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on the size of your group and how many questions are asked. Once your tour is complete, you are welcome to take pictures of the outside of the home and surroundings.
Make sure you stop in the gift shop. Even if you don't buy anything, it’s neat to look around. Be sure to ask for the map of the neighborhood, which shows you all of the addresses and houses that Frank Lloyd Wright designed. There are four or five on the same street and then others throughout Oak Park.
From journal I left my money in Chicago