64 March 18, 2013

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio in Oak Park

Brandon’s aunt and uncle were in town this weekend. His sister mentioned that they were going to tour the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio, and we were invited on short notice to tag along. Revisiting it was on my Lovely Life List, so I said yes. I took Eleanor with while Brandon stayed home with a napping August.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Home and Studio in Oak Park, IL

I’d taken the tour before in high school, but I’d been meaning to go again. It only takes an hour and we live 10 minutes away, so there’s no good reason for me not to have gone already. $15 buys you a ticket. $20 gets you a ticket and a permit for photography (personal use only). Eleanor, being 3, was free.

She loves it when I drag her along to these things. Culture, kid! (She was well-behaved, I promise. And contrary to my photographic evidence, she did enjoy herself at least somewhat.)

Eleanor

There are more than two dozen homes and buildings designed by Wright in Oak Park, at least three of which are for sale right now. For a little under $1 million, you could buy the George Furbeck house. The Thomas Gale house is listed at $849,000, or for rent at $4500/month. Spend a little more ($1,248,500) and you can buy the Martin house. And outside of Oak Park, there are plenty of Frank Lloyd Wright homes for sale.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio

If you want to see the private residences (without bothering real estate agents when you have no intent to buy, ahem), there is an annual Wright Plus Housewalk in Oak Park with tours inside many of the homes. It falls on May 18 this year, and I’ll be going. Only photos of the exteriors will be allowed, but there will be spring greenery and I won’t be bringing my kids along, so I should be able to get at least a couple of decent shots. I plan to visit the Robie House that day too, leaving only Taliesin East and Fallingwater on my list to see, while crossing off extras I hadn’t even thought to add.

Have you been in any of Wright’s houses? I don’t think I could live in one (budget aside, living in a time capsule would be too limiting), but they’re inspiring.

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64 Comments

  • Reply
    Anne
    March 18, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Nicole – Have you read “Loving Frank”? If not, pick it up now! Such a compelling read, particularly for someone from Oak Park. I loved it.

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      March 19, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      I haven’t. Thanks for the recommendation!

      • Reply
        Kim
        March 20, 2013 at 9:42 am

        I agree with Anne. It was a such a great book and the fact that it is based on true events made it that much more interesting. I wish I lived closer, sounds like a fun tour.

  • Reply
    Cristina
    March 18, 2013 at 10:29 am

    I haven’t been to any of Wright’s houses, but I have visited the Marin County Civic Center. It’s absolutely stunning. Next time you come out to San Francisco, you should pop on over the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge to check it out if you have the chance.

  • Reply
    Dianne
    March 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

    We’ve been on the tour about 2 years ago, not sure why we didn’t go sooner. We did the architecture tour which also included a walking tour of some of the surrounding Wright houses. In October, we plan to visit Spring Green when we will be in Madison for a football game.

    I agree with you. While I admire his work, not sure I could live in one of his houses.

    Danne

  • Reply
    alison
    March 18, 2013 at 10:36 am

    If you fancy a short road trip, you should check out Taliesin in Spring Green(my home town!), WI (if you haven’t been already). It’s gorgeous, especially in the summer, and they offer tours as well!

  • Reply
    julia [lifeonchurchill]
    March 18, 2013 at 10:39 am

    I haven’t been to a FLW house and would love to visit. My husband and I are headed to Chicago in August..will add to our list of things to see!

  • Reply
    Mere // Not Merely Living
    March 18, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Love this post! I’ve been to the FLW house in Alabama (where I’m from)-the Rosenbaum. It was really incredible, but I agree that it would be bizarre to live in. I’d love to go on the Wright Plus Housewalk. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Reply
    Hollie @ I'm Busy Procrastinating
    March 18, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I agree — lovely to admire, but could not live in them. Too dark and dreary. But love the architecture and the amazing details.

  • Reply
    Karen Clair
    March 18, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Both Taliesins are phenomenal! But Fallingwater is by far, my favorite. I made them destination vacations and dragged my (then) little girl along too!

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Bergesen
    March 18, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I love FLW and recently discovered one of his houses (The Della Walker House) was located in my neighborhood! http://www.mylifeinblogyears.com/blog/frank-lloyd-wright

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      March 19, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      Always fun to learn the history behind something you see in your neighborhood. (And what a beautiful beach you have there!)

  • Reply
    Amanda Z.
    March 18, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    We’ve been to the home and studio in Oak Park, Fallingwater, Taliesan in Wisconsin, the Dana-Thomas house in Springfield and the Kraus house in Ebsworth Park here in St. Louis. Ebsworth Park is a crazy crazy house, with a ship-like tiny kitchen and amazingly, a trapezoid shaped bed.

  • Reply
    kimberly
    March 18, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    I think it would be weird to live in a Wright home. It would be weird to have all Wright-inspired furniture (because then it would feel like a museum, and who wants to live in a museum) and it would also be weird to bring in your own random modern-day furniture and have it look normal. And, I’m a pretty private person, so it would be on my nerves to have people constantly poking around my front sidewalk taking pictures of my house!

    That all being said, my husband and I went to Falling Water on our honeymoon and I would absolutely move in…the home fits into the natural surroundings beautifully…everything about it is stunning.

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      March 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      I can’t wait to see Fallingwater. Even non-Wright fans (whaaaat?) seem to love it.

  • Reply
    Catherine
    March 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    What a great post! I’ve never been to Chicago, but I’d love to tour his houses if I ever visit. There are lots of historical homes in Texas, and it’s always been a dream of mine to live in one. But, like you said, if you do, you have to maintain the look to strict specifications and open it to the public several times a year. That would be hard for me.

  • Reply
    Marie-Pier | Four Seasons at Home
    March 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    I visited the FLW home and studio some years ago during a Chicago trip. I studied in architecture and Wright is one of my fav architect! Is was really special to be in his home and discover his privacy. I’d love to go back some day!

  • Reply
    Lisa Dreissig
    March 18, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    I saw Falling Water a few years ago during a snow storm and it was amazing, and just as inspiring as you can imagine!

  • Reply
    Laura
    March 18, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    How fun! There’s a Wright home in my hometown, Tulsa, that I got to tour as a middle schooler, but it’s now sadly closed to the public. I’d love to see all the homes in Oak Park!

  • Reply
    kristin
    March 18, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    so funny! the ones you haven’t seen are the ones i have!! (and i grew up in one of his students homes… so- maybe that counts for something? it’s a small community in ohio- called rush creek)

  • Reply
    katie
    March 18, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    You MUST read Loving Frank if you haven’t already. An amazing inside look at his personal life (and especially fun if you know the area well, as you do!).

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      March 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm

      I’d heard about it before, but then forgot to check into it. I’ll have to be sure to pick it up now.

  • Reply
    Ariadne (from WI & loving Wright)
    March 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    So glad to hear you are planning to visit Taliesin in WI. If you are able to plan for a fall tour before the close for the winter, that is one of the best times to see the surrounding landscape – so important in a Wright structure. If you’re in WI, you might also hop over to Madison and tour the Unitarian Meeting House. That is also a great space and the new addition (Wright-inspired) is beautiful as well!

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      March 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      Brandon has some family near Madison. Maybe we’ll be able to see it next time we’re up that way.

  • Reply
    adrienne
    March 18, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    My dad used to give tours at Taliesin in Wisconsin. I would sometimes have to go with him as a kid and just hang out while he gave tours. So I am pretty well versed in Taliesin (and especially the school). You should definitely come to Wisconsin and check it out. I grew up about 20 minutes from there in Mineral Point and there’s really a ton of cool things to do in the area. Also it’s super close to Madison which is a great city to visit and there’s lots of kid stuff to do there. A free zoo, children’s museum, etc. Also check out American Players Theater if you’re around in Summer. A really cool outdoor theater company. Highly recommend.

    I went to Falling Water as part of a trip as a child too and remember it being pretty cool. But I was slightly overloaded with FLW as a child and was pretty bored with it. I definitely appreciate it more now as an adult than as a kid being dragged through against my will! ;)

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      March 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      Yeah, I hope that at least 20-30 years from now, my kids may look back at some of the things they were dragged too and think “oh, I guess that was kind of cool.”

  • Reply
    PJ
    March 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    I’ve only visited Taliesin West — which was incredible, especially ay night — but I’d really love to tour Fallingwater. Though I’m not sure I’m minimalist enough to live in a Frank Lloyd Wright home in present time, I wish I could’ve been alive to live in one decades ago!

    I actually got my first taste of FLW design when I was a kid — family friends bought a house designed by one of his students or colleagues (not sure which) that had a similar feel to Frank’s work. I remember thinking all of the built-ins were soooooo cool.

  • Reply
    megan
    March 18, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    hi foofa.

    :)

  • Reply
    Natalie @ A Turtle's Life for Me
    March 18, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Oh goodness, love this post and so wish I could come out in May for this tour! Would love it! I was also going to mention reading Loving Frank, but I see someone else beat me to it! One of my favorite books ever (although I am always drawn to historical fiction). Such an amazing life he led! Thank you for sharing your pictures!

  • Reply
    Leigh
    March 18, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    I did the FLW house and studio when my son was a baby (worn on my back) and we did the Charnley House which FLW worked on in the same summer.
    But have not been back inside since we moved to within walking distance. I did take my dad to the gift shop, which ended in him building a replica of one of the really cool lamps.

    Nice thing about going with kids is the great playground across the street for them to run their sillies out.

  • Reply
    Paisley
    March 18, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    My parents were huge Frank Lloyd Wright fans and we visited many of his homes. I grew up in a house designed by his son, John Lloyd Wright. It was awesome!

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      March 19, 2013 at 4:24 pm

      The closest I’ve got to that is that I accidentally went on a date with a guy when I was younger with the last name Wright. (I’m so dense that I’d done that more than once — gone on a date without realizing we weren’t just new friends hanging out for the night.)

  • Reply
    Reesa
    March 18, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    I visited Fallingwater while I was in college. Living above a waterfall would be pretty awesome, but I agree living in a time capsule would be a bit much. Also, I remember thinking some of the proportions would make living there a little inconvenient, but I don’t remember the details.

  • Reply
    heidikins
    March 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    I’ve been to Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ a couple of times (architecture nerd, right here). I love some of his designs and plans, and you can also tour Wright and Olga’s residence. Taliesin West is also a working architecture school with the students living and working on the campus/grounds. Swoon. I love everything about it. :)

    xox

  • Reply
    Krista
    March 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    There is one open to the public in my tiny hometown of Springfield Ohio. Oddly enough, I’ve never been inside. The outside is stunning though! It’s always been an interesting part of our community.

  • Reply
    Brianne
    March 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Nicole!

    I *think* you have an Iowa connection, so next time you’re headed this way, thing about staying over in the newly renovated Historic Park Inn Hotel in Mason City, IA. http://wrightonthepark.org/hotel/

    The whole story of the community coming together to save it is great, and it could maybe satisfy the neatness of living in a Wright for a night? I haven’t been yet but I live in Des Moines, so it’s on my list for summer, for sure!

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      March 19, 2013 at 4:27 pm

      Oh, interesting! Yes, Brandon still has family in Iowa (near Des Moines).

  • Reply
    Wendy @ New Moms Talk
    March 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    We lived not far from Fallingwater, and we’d take others there when they visited. Nearby, too, is Kentuck Knob which my parents prefer over Fallingwater.

    A lesser known (perhaps) one that is very beautiful if not small is the Pope-Leighy House in Alexandria, Virginia. It’s not too far from Mount Vernon and the history is great!

    • Reply
      Phyllis
      March 18, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      My husband and I toured both Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob, but I would have to say Kentuck Knob slightly edged out Fallingwater for me, too. It must have been the sculpture garden!

  • Reply
    Julia
    March 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    The Wright Plus Housewalk sounds like a lot of fun; it happens to be one my birthday this year and I’d love to go, although I don’t think I will make it this year. Last week, I went to Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ. You need to go to Fallingwater. It is by far my favorite Wright house which I have seen so far and I am hoping to plan a return trip this July when the rhododendrons are in bloom; apparently it looks like there is snow everywhere when they are blooming and it is a best time to see the house

  • Reply
    kelsey
    March 18, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    I toured the Stockman House in Mason City, Iowa, when I was younger. I’d love to go again now that I’m older and appreciate great design! Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Reply
    etta
    March 18, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    My mom did a little FLW tour 2 years ago and came to chicago to go on the oak park tour, and then went to taliesin and falling water. On the FLW tour, they have a ton of volunteers – one of the houses we went to had tour guides who actually lived there. Our tour guide was a teenaged girl who was charming.

    I keep wanting to volunteer – they have a role called, “sidewalk commentator” which I would love to add to my resume! You just hang out with people waiting in lines and talk to them – I’d so want to tell them fake stories about FLW though (like telling them that FLW was obsessed with bunnies and that if you look carefully, you can find a bunny in every one of their houses).

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    March 18, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Love visiting the FLW house! I’ve gone a couple times. I only toured it once though. I love how ahead of his time he was and the nuances in the house that symbolize other things. Love that neighborhood that the home is in, and it was so delightful to visit in the spring. When we finished the tour the guide happened to be walking in the same direction we were, to her car, and gave us a mini tour of the the neighboring homes. It was so nice of her. There is a cool FLW building on Maiden Lane off Union Square in San Francisco, and the Marin civic center is beautiful as well.

  • Reply
    Shannon
    March 18, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    I grew up around the corner from Talisen West and visited on every field trip from 3rd to 10th grade. I didn’t appreciate them then. It was only after ending up in architecture school and visiting Oak Park as an adult that I really gained an appreciation for his work. I love the early works!

  • Reply
    Katja
    March 18, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    I’ve been to Taliesin West- it originally had a canvas roof ( not a lot of rain in Scottsdale Az). There is a school and the students build their own housing. I think it is sometimes open to view, but pretty expensive. I would love to see that. I’ve been to Falling Water a few times. When I was a kid a friend of my Aunt lived in a house he designed for his daughter. All I remember was that it had a very thick front door!

    They’re very cool to see, but terribly impractical.

  • Reply
    Danielle
    March 18, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    I visited the FLW home and studio in Oak Park a few years ago and enjoyed seeing where it all ‘began’. The neighborhood home tour sounds amazing – I’ll have to make a note to try to get there in the future. Thanks for the tip!

    I’ve also visited Fallingwater and nearby Kentuck Knob and would love the opportunity to live in Fallingwater, regardless of how impractical it would be. That house is incredible! When you visit, definitely make sure to take the side trip to Kentuck Knob. It’s still privately owned and it’s interesting to see how a family makes the space their own – while respecting the FLW vision.

  • Reply
    Christi
    March 18, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    We live in Western Pennsylvania, so we’ve been to Fallingwater a couple of times. Everything about it is so beautiful, in a way that’s difficult to describe. It’s grand quality comes from it’s location on the waterfall, but there is a down-to-earth spirit about it at the same time. It’s cozy and charming, not large and imposing. And it truly embraces its natural surroundings.

    The last time we visited, I stood outside trying to imagine myself at one of the exclusive parties full of beautiful people enjoying cocktails on the open terraces…how the stars must have twinkled in the reflection of the water below. So lovely!

  • Reply
    Kristina
    March 18, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go on this tour. I didn’t grow up in a Frank Lloyd Wright house, but in a house by one of his students. It is kind of like living in a time capsule, but it’s still really cool.

  • Reply
    Sandra
    March 18, 2013 at 10:09 pm

    The man and I did the WrightPlus tour about 10 years ago. SOOOO worth it. I love the contrast of the traditional homes of the same era with his homes – so many of his elements work today and are fresh. It must have BLOWN their minds back then.

    The man has seen Taliesan but neither of us have been to Fallingwater.

    He was quite the hounddog – my bookclub read a novel called Loving Frank that tells all about it.

  • Reply
    Ella
    March 18, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    I’ve toured the Hollyhock House in Hollywood, and stood outside the gates of the Ennis House, which you can’t tour because of earthquake damage (it’s the house from The House on Haunted Hill and Blade Runner). Beautiful, but fragile and often impractical (the stream surrounding the fireplace in the Hollyhock House that floods?)

  • Reply
    Martha
    March 19, 2013 at 6:00 am

    Our Unitarian Church was designed by FLW – worth a stop in Madison. Inspirational place for our family in so many ways.

  • Reply
    Corrin
    March 19, 2013 at 6:23 am

    I adore all of the Wright houses. Having grown up in Chicago, I’m actually pleasantly surprised by the under $1m price tag!

    • Reply
      Making it Lovely
      March 19, 2013 at 7:53 pm

      I was surprised by that! There are plenty of Oak Park homes in the same price range, but I would have thought the FLW name would drive the price up considerably.

  • Reply
    Kelley
    March 19, 2013 at 6:45 am

    Falling Water is up top on the list of places my husband and I want to visit (relatively) soon. Considering the drive (it’s 4 hours from our house) and our two very young children, I think it will be a little while before it happens. But it will happen. It HAS to happen.

  • Reply
    ryan
    March 19, 2013 at 8:15 am

    I’ve got this tour just about memorized after taking my students here on a field trip for years now :)

    I would live in a FLW home in an instant!

  • Reply
    Renee
    March 19, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    I used to give tours at Kentuck Knob. Not only is it a beautiful home and very livable, the current owner has a collection of artwork that is astounding.

  • Reply
    Kim @ Yellow Brick Home
    March 20, 2013 at 9:56 am

    We’ve been in Chicago for 7 years, and this has been on our list for 7 years! It’s time to make it a priority – once the weather is tolerable ;)

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Corner of Main
    March 21, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    I live somewhat close to them, and I have never been. Maybe I need to go check it out!

  • Reply
    heather
    March 24, 2013 at 10:24 am

    I interned in the Home & Studio Resource Center one summer during grad school. I drove down every day from Milwaukee and it was so worth it! I used to spend my lunch hours walking the neighborhood to check out the other houses (the Papersource kept me busy as well). Fallingwater is gorgeous and well worth the visit. We were married at a small FLW cottage near Madison/Dells and that was really cool as well.

  • Reply
    Aunt Jane
    March 25, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    We would like to take you and Brandon to see Taliesen in Spring Green. Eleanor might like it too but perhaps Sara or Katie can take care of August. I prefer the two hour tour of the school for architects and Frank’s home – Taliesen. Then we can have lunch in Spring Green. Love, Aunt Jane and Uncle Wes in Wisconsin.

  • Reply
    House Touring in Oak Park, IL | Making it Lovely
    May 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    […] tour also includes admission to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, and Unity Temple. I just toured the home and studio recently, and I’ve been in Unity Temple before (our rehearsal dinner was held there!), so I skipped […]

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