Wright Walk

I recently had the pleasure of hosting my parents and aunt for a weekend here in Chicago. Shopping and a meal out are staples to any visit, but it’s always a goal of mine to work something novel into the itinerary as well. With the weather unseasonably warm, an architectural walking tour sounded about wright. Frank Lloyd Wright is one of those american architects whose name most people can at least recognize, but none of us could say anything specifically about his body of work.
IMG_0785Chicago’s western suburb of Oak Park has scattered among a many beautiful Victorian homes an impressive number of FLW works as well. The area has in fact been labeled a National Historic Monument due to the concentration of his homes within just a square mile or so. We started at his former home/studio and now museum to get set up with audio recordings, and then set out for about an hour on foot. One of the first things I noticed was the familiar ginkgo tree stank lingering in the courtyard. Mom and Ruth, just drinking it all in.
IMG_0749The tour began by talking about the area in the late 19th century, and how it influenced the sprawling ‘prairie style’ he pioneered. The Arthur B. Heurtley House was my favorite from the tour: bold and imposing, outfitted with his signature leaded glass windows and horizontal lines throughout. The indirectly accessible front door was another recurring theme.
IMG_0752The chaotic Nathan G. Moore House was a favorite as well. Despite having an enormous amount going on with the lines and textures, it somehow still managed to work. Like many of his homes, this one didn’t faced toward the street. While the audio guide suggested Wright included Mayan elements in this one, I saw more of a cathedral influence. The large triangle shapes were also common throughout many of his works, including in his own home where we started.
IMG_0790While we had of course come to see Frank’s work, most of the houses in this ritzy area have got healthy doses of character worth checking out. We extended our tour by driving around the neighborhood and to see a few more FLW homes as well as the other regal, colorful abodes scattered about. The unique roof line on this house in particular caused us to pause. The day was well received by my guests, and I too was glad to have learned something more about both an American legend and the area in which I live.
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