Jeff's Blog - Tuesday, July 3, 2018 - The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, and Unity Temple, in Oak Park, Illinois

Frank Lloyd Wright built his Home and Studio in Oak Park, Illinois in 1889, remodeled it in 1895 and 1898, and lived there until 1909. The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust has restored the house to its 1909 appearance.

Here are some photos of the exterior

    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - front exterior (note that the streetside bushes and concrete are inaccurate - I removed parked cars from the photo)
    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - pillars on porch
    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - sculpture near doorway
    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - front detail

The living room is small and unimpressive. In fact, the fireplace is in a closet-like niche, and draperies are used instead of doors between rooms.

    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - living room
    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - front bay window

The dining room has the typical Frank Lloyd Wright table: a long rectangle with very high-backed chairs. This room has a false (I think) skylight, and one of the chairs is a baby's high-chair.

    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - dining room
    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - dining room ceiling skylight
    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - dining room baby highchair

The second story of the house has two small bedrooms and a family room.

    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - bedroom
    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - bedroom
    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - family room
    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - family room bookcase
    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - family room
    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - family room skylight
    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - family room skylight

The attached studio was much more interesting to me than the house, being more spacious.

    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - studio drafting room
    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - ceiling of the studio drafting room
    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - desk in studio drafting room
    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - studio drafting room
    
Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, Oak Park, Illinois - studio octagon room


Unity Temple is only a few blocks away from the Home and Studio in Oak Park, Illinois. It's a Unitarian Universalist church designed by Wright and built between 1905 and 1908 to replace a church on this site which burned down. It's located on a busy street, but due to its design is very quiet and peaceful inside. The innovative design and extensive use of reinforced concrete make Unity Temple considered by many to be the world's first modern building.

The exterior of the build is monolithic; a concrete box with decorations not indicative of a church, and fairly plain (for a church) upper-story windows. Compare this to the more conventional First United Church, right across the street!

    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - exterior
    
First United Church of Oak Park, across the street from Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois
    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - exterior
    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - above the entryway
    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - entryway

The entrance doors are shown in the final photo above. They're in a small courtyard at the side of the building, hidden from street view in typical Frank Lloyd Wright fashion behind a concrete wall. Your only clue that this is an entry is a small plain concrete stairway leading through the concrete wall from the sidewalk.

Once inside you'll find yourself in a low-ceilinged unpretentious lobby, with a large single-room Community Center on the right and the Temple space on the left. The Community Center is shown below:

    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - community space
    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - skylight ceiling of community space

You enter into the Temple space through small and low-ceilinged hallways, then find yourself entering the large open Temple space (compression and release).

    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - temple space from first balcony
    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - temple space
    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - temple space
    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - temple space

Views from the balcony and from behind the altar are shown below:

    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - temple space from second balcony
    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - temple space
    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - temple space from behind altar

Photos of some church details are shown below:

    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - temple space altar
    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - temple space pews
    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - temple space organ behind altar

I quite liked the hanging lights Frank Lloyd Wright designed for this church, and the skylight over the Temple space.

    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - temple space light fixture
    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - temple space light fixture
    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - temple space light fixtures and skylight ceiling
    
Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois - temple space light fixtures and skylight ceiling
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