“A House is More a Home by Being a Work of Art”
One of my favorite architects is Frank Lloyd Wright. (In all fairness, he’s probably the only architect I know anything about.) So, when we traveled to Chicago and I realized that Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio are in Oak Park, just outside of the Windy City, it was a must-see. His home and studio were available for a tour and I was excited to get a chance to explore more about his background. Because of its popularity, you can do walking tours in his neighborhood and appreciate all the homes he designed from the sidewalk. It felt like I was going through an outdoor art gallery.
The tour was very interesting. I might hesitate in taking younger children because there is a “no touch” policy and it was hard even for the adults on our tour not to touch things. I won’t call anyone out, but they know who they are. (Okay, it was me.) The guide was very knowledgeable and friendly, and told us that in order for Wright’s ex-wife to make money, the property had been turned into apartments many years ago. I couldn’t get over how well the house and studio had been restored since it was bought back by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust. When the Trust team was restoring the studio, they found some original stained glass in the ceiling. The workers miraculously didn’t break it as they removed the false ceiling.
The studio was interesting and I loved how you could almost see Mr. Wright and his fellow architects working in this awe-inspiring place. You could see the love in the details. I think this is where I started to wander off and was told I needed to rejoin the tour. It caught my imagination…can you blame me?
The gift shop is on the property and actually used to be the garage. You could empty out your checking account there, so beware. I settled on buying a magnet. It was cheaper and easy to pack in a suitcase.
After our tour, we headed for the other homes in the neighborhood. The ones designed by Frank Lloyd Wright are privately owned so you have to admire from the sidewalk. I wondered if the folks in the homes felt like celebrities do when paparazzi are outside their property waiting for the perfect photo op. I felt like we should have kept our car running in case someone came running out the door with a golf club to chase us away.
After we grabbed lunch, we headed to the next tour of the Robie House—another wonderful home Frank (I can call him Frank because I have been to his house) built. Robie House, located across from the University of Chicago, is a home you can tour as well—get your tickets from flwright.org. Prices are the same as the tour of the Wright House and Studio. This home was built for the Robies and has not been renovated to the level of Frank’s house was (they are still raising funds to complete the project). Despite limited renovations, this tour was just as informative and had interesting details. I found myself playing chicken with a fellow wristband holder to get that shot without fellow tourists in them. I think I won because I was typically the last to leave the room. This tactic was not admired by the tour guide, though.
While you’re there, take a walk around the University of Chicago if your feet have not disowned you. It was well worth the added steps and you’re already in the neighborhood of this beautiful school.
Even if you aren’t an architecture enthusiast, these tours are well worth it. Frank Lloyd Wright was a very interesting person of his time and I’m happy I was able to get to know him better. (On a side note, I don’t think I would want to sit in one of the three-legged chairs he designed. They have been known to dump you out.)
Now I’m ready to design my next home. Can’t wait to see my husband’s face when he hears my ideas.