Frank Lloyd Wright's (1867-1959) illustrious career began right in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1889, and for the next 20 years, Wright designed and built hundreds of homes and buildings in the Chicago area for a local architectural firm. There are several Wright buildings in Oak Park, including his own home and studio, which is located on Chicago Avenue.
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.