Located in Oak Park, Illinois—a suburban community situated approximately 10 miles west of downtown Chicago—Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio is a prime destination for architecture lovers. Those visitors to Chicago interested in learning more about the life and work of this highly influential American architect will not want to miss touring this striking site where Wright lived and worked for nearly 20 years during the early days of his illustrious career. The property is owned and operated by the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, which conducts daily tours and regularly hosts special events and educational programming on site.
Frank Lloyd Wright Home History
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park Home and Studio date to 1889, when Wright, armed with a loan of $5,000 from his boss (the acclaimed architect, Louis Sullivan), first bought the land and then completed his initial work on the Home. The Home and Studio have undergone several significant changes in the intervening years. Originally, the Home was a very modest, relatively simple two-story structure constructed to house Wright, his wife Catherine, and their small children. In time, though, Wright would modify and alter the structure significantly to suit his professional needs, as well as his growing family.
In 1895 Wright doubled the size of the house, designing and constructing a brand-new dining room and play area for his children. He then converted the former dining room into a home studio where he could conduct his drafting exercises. By 1898, Wright had started his own practice; as a result, he designed and built a whole new structure on the property to house his work—what we know today as the Studio. Wright kept his primary work studio at this site until 1910, while Catherine and the children lived there until 1918. Throughout the middle of the 20th Century the property changed hands several times, and eventually fell into disrepair. The Home and Studio were designated National Historic Landmarks in 1976, at which point an extensive renovation was undertaken.
What’s at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home
It is said that Wright’s Oak Park Home and Studio were the very first architectural designs over which he (who was only 22 years old when the Home was first built) had complete artistic control. Accordingly, a tour of these remarkable structures offers fascinating insights into the early stages of what would eventually become Wright’s iconic sense of design and layout.
All the hallmarks of Wright’s mature style are present in the Home. The ground floor of the Home consists of a series of rooms that all seem to open up and flow into one another. A central hearth anchors one wall, and the décor here is dominated by warm-wood colors and sculptures and prints unique to the site.
A playroom Wright designed for his children—arguably the highlight of the property—is found on the second floor of the Home. This beautiful space features a vaulted ceiling, a Roman-brick fireplace, an elaborate mural depicting a story from Arabian Nights, and bay windows complete with built-in window seats.
Wright’s Studio is connected to the Home via a small corridor, and consists primarily of a waiting room for clients, a small office, a library, and the drafting room itself. There Wright and his staff would have worked on their plans on drafting tables and chairs designed by Wright himself. Experts believe that Wright and his team created nearly 150 different projects here in the 15 or so years they worked in this beautiful space.
Tips for Visiting theFrank Lloyd Wright Home
- The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio is one of the included attractions on the Go Chicago Card. Coordinate the tour with a visit to Ernest Hemingway’s Birth Home as well as the nearby Brookfield Zoo, both included on the card. It’s also also included on the Explorer Pass but at $18, it’s better to just pay admission.
- The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio is open for tours every day of the week between the hours of 10:00am and 4:00pm.
- If you’re driving to the Home and Studio, there is free parking on the streets nearby. However, the complex may also be reached via either a Green Line CTA train or a West Line Metra train.
- While the majority of the Studio portion of the property is accessible to individuals utilizing wheelchairs, unfortunately the Home itself is not, as every single entrance to the Home features a flight of stairs.
- Photography is permitted within the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, so make sure to have your cameras ready during your tour. However, additional photographic equipment like selfie sticks and tripods are forbidden, so here you’ll have to make do with your camera or phone.
- The home is an included attraction on the Go Chicago Card. If you are visiting more than one attraction while in Chicago, it can save you money on admissions.