Written by GB from Devizes on 21 Nov, 2006
This amazing building sits on Lake Street and was built to replace the original Unitarian Universalist Church which was destroyed by fire. Frank Lloyd Wright began his design in 1905 but had various obstacles to overcome. He had a small budget, the site was narrow…Read More
This amazing building sits on Lake Street and was built to replace the original Unitarian Universalist Church which was destroyed by fire. Frank Lloyd Wright began his design in 1905 but had various obstacles to overcome. He had a small budget, the site was narrow and on a busy street and, the building was required to provide a number of functions. He wanted to build a church that was more in the style of an ancient temple and it was his specific request that the "church" should be named a temple.Construction began in 1906 and took until 1908 at a cost of around $60,000. He utilised reinforced concrete slabs that were made with cement and crushed red granite throughout the site. The walls, roofs, and floors were constructed using pea gravel and crushed stone, all of which added texture and warmth to the building. He was also one of the earliest pioneers of the use of poured liquid concrete which could essentially be moulded into virtually any shape. The use of so much concrete fitted in well with the low budget but the end results were stunning.For the interior, FLW used transparent glass for doors, windows, skylights and light fittings and the delicacy of this was in sharp juxtaposition to the huge concrete formed slabs that formed much of the exterior and interior, including the altar, balconies, and hearth. Wright also used a great deal of oak to fine detail in the doors and window frames, as well as using it to form concentric banding on many concrete surfaces and on the organ screen. It’s this banding that serves to bind together the various areas of space within the temple and accentuates the plasticity of the concrete structures. It also highlights FLW’s intimate attention to detail.The interior concrete surfaces are plastered and are painted in soft yellow, grey, and green. This allows the maximum amount of light to be reflected around the interior, courtesy of the art-glass laylights in the ceiling. Each balcony has a row of clerestory windows running above and these were set directly into the concrete rather than using traditional frames, allowing an easier transition between interior and exterior spaces.The hanging lamp fixtures are in a Japanese style and again, the spherical globes contrast with the cubism of the building. They are suspended on long cords which have the effect of lowering the roof height.Most of the furniture inside was designed by Wright including the pews but these were never built due to cost constraints.The Unity Temple is a joy to discover and explore. It is open to visitors all day as long as it is in use and there are no restraints on photography anywhere within. The charming lady who took my $8 admission pointed out the scale model that sat just behind her and politely suggested that I make it my first stop to get a real idea of how the temple is laid out and the logical way in which to view it. All areas of the interior are accessible to visitors and the temple seemed to have a good regular "clientele" who appeared to be listening to a bible reading. No-one minds as you wander around their temple, snapping away to your heart’s content at the inspiring architecture.I’m not a religious person, but if I were, then I would love to be able to worship in such a beautiful temple as this.The Unity Temple sits at 875 Lake Street at N. Kenilworth Avenue.Opening hours are: March-November, Monday through Friday from 10:30am to 4:30pm, Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 4pm. December-February, every day from 1pm to 4pm.Guided tours are available Saturday and Sunday only at 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm.Tel. (708) 383-8873 Web www.unitytemple-utrf.org Close
Written by GB from Devizes on 20 Nov, 2006
Along with Hemingway, Oak Park can be rightly proud of its other revered son, namely Frank Lloyd Wright, widely regarded as the 20th century’s greatest architect. Indeed, “Architectural Record” magazine proclaimed that his buildings “stand out as the most significant architectural works during the last…Read More
Along with Hemingway, Oak Park can be rightly proud of its other revered son, namely Frank Lloyd Wright, widely regarded as the 20th century’s greatest architect. Indeed, “Architectural Record” magazine proclaimed that his buildings “stand out as the most significant architectural works during the last 100 years in the world”.FLW was born in 1867 and lived to a ripe old age, finally meeting his death in 1959. During this prolific career, he designed over 1100 works to include houses, churches, libraries, and museums. Of these, 532 resulted in finished works of which over 400 stand today. He was a man of many talents and in addition to his architectural prowess was also a philosopher, writer, and teacher. He not only designed buildings; his prodigious talent extended to furniture, lamps, art glass, and tableware.Oak Park contains the highest concentration of private residences designed and built by FLW. These multi-coloured, intricately fabricated homes are a sheer delight as they peep out from behind the cover of the tree-lined streets of the area, standing in their beautifully manicured gardens. FLW built them all on a commission basis, i.e. for a specific client who would be totally involved with the design and requirements for what would be an exquisite home. Many of these homes are still known today by their original names, e.g. the Moore-Dugal residence and the Mills-Decaro residence. Some of these have undergone radical rebuilding over the years both to protect the integrity of the structure whilst one in particular suffered from severe fire damage and was totally reconstructed in the early 1920s.To fully appreciate FLW’s contribution to architecture, a visit to his studio and house is a must see. It sits at 951 Chicago Ave at its junction with Forest Ave. Guided tours are available and tend to fill up quickly as a strictly regulated number of people are allowed inside at any one time. The house was constructed after he obtained a substantial loan from his boss in 1889. FLW believed that stuffy Victorian interiors should be replaced with open-plan rooms that lead seamlessly from one to the next, using glass, wood and earthy tones to redefine the boundaries between interior and exterior spaces. A house should be an organic experience, not merely four walls encompassing a clutter of different rooms. The result was this visually stunning residence where he and his wife raised 6 children.The house was extended to incorporate his studio and this is no less fascinating with its wonderful octagonal-shaped office and light, airy drawing rooms where he and his architects would work. Of particular interest is the suspended gallery, hanging in mid air supported by black metal chains. FLW believed in maximising the natural light available and this is so evident in the studio and house with beautifully made glass panels allowing the sunlight in at ceiling level. The exterior of the house and studio here have not been neglected either and the various sculptures and fine workmanship above the entrance to the studio reflect FLW’s eye for detail and beauty.FLW went on to develop what became his “Prairie Style” of architecture and was also the first architect to use poured concrete for residential properties as well as for commercial buildings. Although this sounds somewhat uninspiring, one glance at his wonderful Unity Temple shows how concrete can be used to maximum, artistic effect.Like the Hemingway attractions, no visit to Oak Park should be considered complete without a visit here as indeed, you should also take a stroll around the neighbourhood to sample the visual feasts of architecture that his houses present to the eye.Opening hours, guided tours ONLY are Monday through Friday at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm. Saturday and Sunday every 20 minutes from 11am to 3:30pm. Tickets cost $12. As mentioned numbers per tour are strictly limited so you may have to wait for the next available tour. All large bags and cameras have to be checked and for goodness sakes don’t touch anything or you will receive the unfettered wrath of the guides. Close
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 19 Oct, 2006
Climbing up the steep steps from the kitchen to the upstairs of the Hemingway Birthplace, I was reminded of the stairs at my Grandma's and Aunt's places in Pawtucket, Rhode Island with the steepness and noise they made as you climb them. Luckily this time,…Read More
Climbing up the steep steps from the kitchen to the upstairs of the Hemingway Birthplace, I was reminded of the stairs at my Grandma's and Aunt's places in Pawtucket, Rhode Island with the steepness and noise they made as you climb them. Luckily this time, I didn't fall down the steps like I did one time after leaving a party at someone's house who had similar steps.
The downstairs of the Hemingway Birthplace was awesome, and the upstairs didn't disappoint me either. The furnishings and bedding were authentically restored to look like a Victorian home from the turn of the century, and the stories from our coordinator Conni were just as colorful.
We first saw the bathroom with its clawfoot bathtub and a functioning toilet. No outhouses for this family! The clawfoot tub reminded me of my Nana's tub in her house in Riverside, Rhode Island. There was no such thing as a two-bathroom house in the 19th century, and the Hemingways, all eight of them, had to share one small bathroom.
We then looked in the maids bedroom followed by Uncle Tyley's room. Tyley Hancock was Ernest's maternal great-uncle and the children's favorite uncle who always had a piece of candy or a gift with a story attached to it. Uncle Tylee also liked the ladies and was once engaged to the Hemingway's maid, but sadly the maid ran away before Uncle Tylee and she could say "I do," and he never married in his lifetime. However, this didn't stop him from his wining and dining with the ladies, and this behavior was prominent in Ernest's later life. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!, as the saying goes.
The children shared a couple of bedrooms in the upstairs, and Abba's room is also located upstairs. Now it is a very interesting story about where and how Ernest's parents slept. After a woman stopped having children in the Victorian Era, the husband and wife went into separate bedrooms as a form of birth control. But Clarence and Grace Hemingway were very much in love and refused to stop "visiting" each other as the Victorian saying goes. But mouths of the servants wagged when Dr. Hemingway left his wife's bedroom almost every night after a "visit", so he had a secret passageway built between his and Grace's bedrooms in order to stop the gossip. These bedrooms turned out to be my favorite rooms in the Hemingway birthplace. Grace's room was located in the turret of the house and a couch was located by this window and turret along with a beautiful white metal bed. I was thinking of spray painting my white metal bed frame black at home, but after seeing this bed and decor, I am seriously thinking of changing styles in my room.
Dr. Hemingway's room was much smaller than his wife's room, and it was decorated with a twin bed and a bookcase with medical journals and some of his instruments that he used in his practice.
After visiting the upstairs rooms, the group went back the main staircase into the Study/Library. This is the room where Dr. Hemingway did his work and the children did their homework. Abba also worked in here, and if the children didn't do their homework, Abba made sure that the children were spanked for slacking off. The Study also had two certificates of Abba's and Dr. Hemingway's Civil War service. Abba's certificate was full of information about the battles he participated in along with the medals he was awarded for bravery. Dr. Hemingway's certificate didn't have much information because he was determined to do his duty and get out of the Army as soon as he could. In many of his works, Ernest Hemingway wrote about the soldiers who suffered from shell shock and lost limbs rather than glorify war and its horrors.
It was here that the tour ended, unfortunately. Everyone was very impressed with her fountain of information, and we all shook hands with her and thanked her profusely for her great tour. There is also a collection basket that you can donate money in order to continue the restoration of the Hemingway Birthplace, and I threw a dollar in there as my thanks. I wish I could have put more in, but every little bit helps.
Tired of modern art and the big city, I decided to stay in Oak Park on the Sunday before heading home to Idaho and visited the Hemingway Birthplace. I had been to the museum on my first full day in Oak Park, but didn't have…Read More
Tired of modern art and the big city, I decided to stay in Oak Park on the Sunday before heading home to Idaho and visited the Hemingway Birthplace. I had been to the museum on my first full day in Oak Park, but didn't have time to visit the birthplace, but my ticket was good for a year after purchase, and I was able to finally take advantage of seeing the Hemingway Birthplace on a nice October Sunday afternoon. After having lunch at Erik's Deli down the road from my hotel, I made the walk down the road to the Birthplace. The home didn't open until 1pm, and I was a little early, so I sat down on the porch bench to soak in the ambiance of the Victorian exterior. One could grow to love this existence, I thought.
Finally, the volunteer coordinator opened the doors and warmly greeted me. "Are you here for the tour?", she asked. "Yes, I am"., I said. She introduced herself as Conni, and she said to sign the guest book and have a seat while waiting for other tourists to arrive. "Where are you from?", Conni asked. I told her I was from Idaho, but about 6 hours west of Hemingway's home in Ketchum, Idaho. Conni asked me if I had been to his Idaho home, but I told her I hadn't. She asked me if any family members had been to Sun Valley, and I told her that my parents had been there a few years ago, and then I told her that my friend Leslie had been in Hailey last year because she was on jury duty for a murder trial that had happened in Bellevue, a small town near Ketchum. Conni and the other volunteer guide were really interested in my story of how this teenager who killed her parents because they didn't approve of her older illegal alien boyfriend from Mexico and how the trial had to be held in our home county, Ada, because of the publicity. Leslie had to go to Bellevue with the other jurors because they had to see the murder site during the trial.
A few minutes later, a tourist from outside Washington, DC, and two ladies from Des Plaines arrived for the tour followed by a lady from Peru. Our group was small and complete, and Conni began the tour downstairs. I am glad I skipped Millennium Park for this tour.
Conni was very informative and made the tour interesting and funny. We got to participate when Conni asked questions about our knowledge of the Victorian Era. There was nothing stuffy about Conni at all.
We began the tour in the living room with a history of the home. Hemingway's birthplace was built in 1890 shortly after his parents' marriage. Hemingway's father, Dr. Clarence "Ed" Hemingway was a doctor, and his mother Grace Hall Hemingway was an accomplished composer and musician. Hemingway's grandfather Mr. Hall, who was affectionately called Abba by his grandchildren, didn't want his grandchildren raised alone by his daughter when his son-in-law was absent on medical calls for long periods. So, he had this home built on Oak Park Avenue so that he could live with his daughter and be a big part in his grandkids' lives.
In the late 19th Century, houses on Oak Park Avenue had to meet certain and strict standards. Conni called it the "Pinky Standard" because one had to be very wealthy to live on Oak Park Avenue, and houses had to have more than five bedrooms to qualify to live there. Hemingway's Mom had six children altogether, so that wasn't a problem.
However, doctors during this time didn't have the prestige like they do today and were considered the crap at the bottom of the totem pole. Hemingway's dad only earned $50 a month, and in order to supplement his income for his growing family, he took to taxidermy. UGH! Today, if your doctor liked to stuff dead animals, you would be afraid you would be stuffed during a surgical procedure.
The entire downstairs was decorated with several of Dr. Hemingway's stuffed animals, including a deer head over the dining room fireplace. In the study/library, there were two barn owls stuffed on a bookshelf. These owls were shot by Dr. Hemingway in Michigan while on his honeymoon, and he had them stuffed and gave them to his bride as a wedding gift. Now, I am not a jewelry person, but if my hubby gave me a stuffed owl for a wedding gift, I would have him shot and stuffed, too!
The downstairs of the Hemingway Birthplace is being lovingly restored by volunteers in Oak Park. Most of the original furniture was sold or thrown away when the previous owners bought the place and remodeled it in the Prairie style and modern style. The beautifully carved roses that adorned the ceiling edges were covered with plaster or drop ceilings! Call the guys from Queer Eye! In order to return the home to its Victorian Grandeur, a lot of money was spent to order furniture that was as close to the original as possible. The woodstove in the kitchen cost about $6,000 to replace. In 1890, it cost $14.99 from Sears. The piano in the living room was donated by a local woman in the 1990's, and the are always looking for more furniture from the era to help in the restoration. To be continued in Part 2.
The Hemingway Birthplace was a rare highlight of my trip to Chicago, and it deserves a journal all to itself.
As we were touring the house, I was noticing the light fixtures and the work that was being done on the walls the whole time.…Read More
The Hemingway Birthplace was a rare highlight of my trip to Chicago, and it deserves a journal all to itself.
As we were touring the house, I was noticing the light fixtures and the work that was being done on the walls the whole time. Working at Home Depot the last eight months, one can see what kind of light bulbs a place has and many paint techniques. AH! That Home Depot education is paying off.
When the house was built in 1890, it was a time when many houses were switching from gas lighting and power to electricity. A lot of old timers didn't like the way electrical lighting looked with its bare light bulbs or cold bright bulbs, and they stayed with gas lights. But the Hemingway Birthplace had these unique lights called "Up and Downs." The up facing bulbs were gas lights, and the down facing bulbs were electric which would give off a warm glow throughout the home. Today, the light fixtures are completely electric and are 25 Watt soft white bulbs.
The downstairs walls are being painted in a burgundy and cream pattern reminiscent of the striped wallpaper of the late 19th century. This is a more cost effective technique, and I did mention this to Conni and the group, and I also noticed the lighting. "You cannot put Daylight Effect bulbs in this place because it would make the place cold looking. Also, I wouldn't put them in a bathroom because they bring out your wrinkles and gray hairs more!" The tourist from the DC area was pretty impressed and said, "I know who to go to when I need light fixtures!" Home Depot Store #1809, Eagle, Idaho, sir!
After touring the living and dining areas, we arrived in the kitchen, which is still going under restoration, but one couldn't tell. There is an old porcelain sink in the corner along with a woodstove and its furnishings. But the kitchen also had something that wasn't there in the late 19th Century, an elevator. In order to be kosher with OSHA (I made a funny!), the Hemingway Birthplace had to put an elevator in the place in order to make it handicapped accessible. Conni walked with a cane, and she offered anyone in the group to either ride in the elevator or climb the steep stairs to the upper level. I chose to go up the stairs with a couple of the tourists, and that is where this entry ends and is continued in "The Hemingway Birthplace: Upstairs."
For more information on the Hemingway Birthplace go to this website: www.EHFOP.org.