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Chicago's Top 10 : Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park

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This quiet suburb, seven miles (11 km) west of downtown Chicago, contains the world’s largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings. It was here that Wright developed his Prairie style, (inspired by the flat lines of the Midwestern plains), influencing other architects such as George Maher. His work was first considered radical, even ugly, compared to the typical styles of the day. Walking through Oak Park’s quaint, tree-lined streets, it’s evident that Wright’s unique architecture does stand out from the norm – but in all the right ways.

  • El Station: Oak Park

Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio

Unity Temple

  • 875 West Lake Street

Pleasant Home

  • 217 South Home Avenue

Arthur Heurtley House

  • 318 Forest Avenue

The Bootleg Houses

  • 1019/1027/1031 Chicago Avenue

Charles Matthews House

  • 432 North Kenilworth Avenue

Edwin Cheney House

  • 520 North East Avenue

Beachy House

  • 238 Forest Avenue

Nathan Moore House

  • 333 Forest Avenue

Harry Adams House

  • 710 Augusta Boulevard


Frank Lloyd Wright

After moving to Oak Park in 1889, Wright (1867–1959) appeared to lead the perfect suburban life. But in the early 20th century he created scandals by gallivanting with married women, and wearing flamboyant clothes and long hair. During the Depression, however, he transformed into a respected social visionary, and later redefined himself as a quick-witted sage. Ultimately, though, he became a master of self-promotion, establishing himself as the first celebrity architect.


Oak Park Street Map

Detail of house in Oak Park designed by Wright

Dine Italian at family-run La Bella Pasteria (

  • ,

  • 1103 South Blvd

  • 1 708 524 0044

)

The Visitors’ Center sells maps, books, and tickets for area tours (

  • ,

  • 158 N. Forest Ave.

  • 1 708 848 1500

)

For detailed information on opening hours call the Visitors’ Center. Most buildings open to the public are visited by tour only.


Literary buffs take note:

  • Ernest Hemingway’s Oak Park birthplace is open to the public (

    339 N. Oak Park Ave.
    , 1 708 848 2222 )

Top 10 Buildings
  1. Unity Temple

    This compact church (1908) wonderfully demonstrates Wright’s use of poured concrete for both structural and decorative purposes.

  2. Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio

    Built when Wright moved to Oak Park (1889), this is where he designed over 150 structures. The children’s playroom is luminous with signature art-glass windows.

  3. Pleasant Home

    This 30-room Prairie-style 1897 home built by George Maher, was Oak Park’s first to have electricity. It holds a small history museum, including exhibits relating to Tarzan creator and former local resident, Edgar Rice Burroughs.

  4. Arthur Heurtley House

    Wright’s beautiful 1902 house is absolute Prairie, with its low, wide chimney, and band of art-glass windows that makes the over-hanging roof appear to float.

  5. Beachy House

    An impressive 1906 home that contradicts many of Wright’s trademarks. Instead of just stucco and wood or brick and concrete, he used them all: it also has a seven-gabled, rather than a hipped, roof.

  6. Charles Matthews House

    Architects Thomas Eddy Tallmadge and Vernon S. Watson designed this elegant 1909 Prairie-style residence for a wealthy druggist. Among the interior details are Prairie-inspired light fixtures and folding art-glass doors.

  7. Edwin Cheney House

    Now a B&B, this home sparked a tragic love affair between Wright and Mrs. Cheney, leading him to abandon his family and practice. Mamah Cheney and her children were murdered at Wright’s Wisconsin home by an insane servant in 1914.

  8. The Bootleg Houses

    Wright lost his job over these three private commissions, built while he was actually employed by Louis Sullivan. Though Queen Anne-like in style, they hint at the design elements that were to be his hallmarks.

  9. Nathan Moore House

    Out of financial desperation, Wright built this charming Tudor-style home for his neighbor. After a fire destroyed the top floors in 1922, Wright’s modifications echoed his West Coast concrete block houses.

  10. Harry Adams House

    This striking 1913 home marks the last of Wright’s Oak Park houses and features several of the elements that made him famous, such as exquisite stained glass, and a low overhanging roof.

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