Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
The next stop on my tour of Oak Park, IL was the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio. This was the architect's first home, where he experimented with design concepts eventually leading to the development of the Prairie style he is known for. Tours of the home and studio (which are adjacent to each other) begin every 20 minutes and last an hour. I'd recommend buying tickets online to ensure you get a time slot that works for you and so you avoid waiting around for your tour to begin.
Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Wisconsin on June 8, 1867 (which made him 32 when Ernest Hemingway was born...so they were alive at the same time but not necessarily at their peak at the same time.) Wright moved to Chicago in 1887 at the age of 20 in search of employment. It was a good time to be an architect in the area, as Chicago was still rebuilding after the devastating Chicago Fire in 1871.
Frank Lloyd Wright's home is located at 428 Forest Ave. and his studio can be found at 951 Chicago Ave., Oak Park, IL. The home was built in 1889 and underwent extensive renovation in 1895 to expand along with their growing family. In 1898 the studio was built. It was renovated by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust to how it would have looked in 1909.
We didn't have time on this trip, but there is also a walking tour of homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Unity Temple is now open to the public after being closed for two years for a $25 million dollar comprehensive restoration. So these two things will be a perfect excuse for another Oak Park excursion.
3 Books About Frank Lloyd Wright
For the three books you'll want to read before (or after) visiting Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio, I chose two books about the women in his life. The first one sparked my interest in Frank Lloyd Wright's personal life, the second dives into all the women who loved the architect. (Oak Park seems to produce very talented, but also unfaithful men...) The last book is by one of my favorite authors, Meryle Secrest, and focuses more on the man himself.
This book was published ten years ago, but it is still worth picking up if you haven't read it yet! Of course I've long been aware of the contribution Frank Lloyd Wright made to American architecture, I've toured a number of his homes, but I hadn't known much about his personal life until I read this book. I've said it once, and I'll say it again, my favorite thing about historical fiction is that it gets me excited to read more about the subject. After reading this book I went on a Frank Lloyd Wright frenzy, wanting to tour any home that was open to the public. And now that I'm living in Chicago...I have lots to choose from! It is about Mamah, who in 1903 (along with her husband) commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design a home. During construction, a relationship built between Mamah and Frank Lloyd Wright...
I haven't read this book, yet...but it sounds interesting! This is what the description on Amazon says, "Having brought to life eccentric cereal king John Harvey Kellogg in The Road to Wellville and sex researcher Alfred Kinsey in The Inner Circle, T.C. Boyle now turns his fictional sights on an even more colorful and outlandish character: Frank Lloyd Wright. Boyle's incomparable account of Wright's life is told through the experiences of the four women who loved him. There's the Montenegrin beauty Olgivanna Milanoff, the passionate Southern belle Maude Miriam Noel, the tragic Mamah Cheney, and his young first wife, Kitty Tobin. Blazing with his trademark wit and inventiveness, Boyle deftly captures these very different women and the creative life in all its complexity." Note that this book includes Mamah, the subject of Loving Frank. I can't wait to read about the other women in the architect's life!
After including two books about the women in Frank Lloyd Wright's life, I thought I should probably include a book about the architect himself. I've read Elsa Schiaparelli by Meryle Secrest and I love this author's style. She does a tremendous amount of research for her books and tells a comprehensive story of the subject's life. I am eager to read her account of Frank Lloyd Wright, which focuses more on his personal life (friends and family) as opposed to his architecture. As much as I admire his buildings, I am always more intrigued to learn about the people behind the works.
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