The Frank Lloyd Wright Home a Studio has served as a magnet for architects and fans of Prairie Style architecture for years. The home, at 951 Chicago Avenue in Oak Park, was completed in 1889 and was Wrights first project where he had complete artistic control. Over the 20 years he lived there, it served as his site for experimentation as he made two major additions to the home. The National Parks Service declared the home and studio a National Historic Landmark in 1976 and it draws an international crowd of visitors every year. Visitors come not only to tour the home but also to participate in the many programs hosted by the Frank Lloyd Trust each year.
The home and studio together have many iconic rooms frequently featured and photographed. The inglenook and fireplace near the entry are the first you see, an intimate area that provides a warm feeling. This is also where you will see one of the few times Wright gives a nod to the Victorian Style with dental moldings and a bas-relief. The dining room, a result of one of Wrights experimentation and expansion projects, is known for its heavy use of geometry. The resulting space within a space with the large oak table and stained glass panel above it serves as an inspiration to many. The second story playroom with its barrel vaulted ceiling and enormous mural of a scene from The Arabian Knights is where you hear “wow” from many people. This large space was intended to inspire creativity and can serve as a stage (with a balcony for a audience), a music room, a classroom or a place for games. The majestic studio addition has a very masculine and handsome feel to it. The extensive use of wood results in warm colors while exposed supports and structural elements give the feeling of strength.
The exterior is a showcase for the evolution of Wright’s style. The home front with its expanse of lawn, wide front porch and huge single gable are welcoming and give a feeling of protection. The studio front is much closer to the street. Its solid brick and dark wood exterior seem inviting and a bit intriguing. To find the entrance, you have to actually study the building and take in its features, walk around the decorative embellishments and figural sculptures until you find the door. While on the grounds you can’t miss the majestic old Ginkgo Tree. A feature of the yard since Wright lived there, its leaf shape has become a symbol for the home.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust has developed numerous programs for everyone to learn and explore more about Wright. House walks and bike tours both guided and unguided are always available. The Annual Wright Plus Housewalk, held in May, is an incredible opportunity to see inside many of the area’s other Wright buildings including some private homes. They also have programs for young architects where they can actually work in the studio.
Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio guided tours are daily from 9am to 4:15pm. The home and studio is closed for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Day, and New Year’s Day.