THE UNITY TEMPLE
Last week while I was in Chicago, I seized the moment and visited some Frank Lloyd Wright houses. In Oak Park, I toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio and then did a walking tour of some of the other house in the area. We ended the walking tour at Unity Temple which was closed and undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation. The $23 million restoration of Unity Temple launched in Spring 2015 and is expected to be complete by Fall 2016. This Frank Lloyd Wright-designed church was among Wright’s favorite commissions. Its design was unprecedented in 1905, with its cubist theme and poured concrete construction.
On my second day, I went to see the Robie House on the University of Chicago’s campus. The design precedent for the Robie House was the Ferdinand F. Tomek House in Riverside, Illinois, designed by Wright in 1907-08. The Robie family—Frederick, Laura, and their two children, Frederick Jr. and Lorraine—moved into the home in May 1910, although all of the final details, including rugs and furniture, were not completed until January 1911. The final cost of the home was $58,500–$13,500 for the land, $35,000 for the design and construction of the building, and $10,000 for the furnishings. ($58,500 in 1910 is approximately equal to $1,400,000 in 2013.) Robie’s original budget had been $60,000.
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?
It is amazing to realize that these houses were all early Frank Lloyd Wright projects completed in the early 1900’s. I asked my son when he thought these houses were built….and like many, he said, “In the 60’s?”. To think that Wright was designing homes like this prior to the World’s fair is shocking.
Don’t forget that we have a Frank Lloyd Wright gem in St. Louis- The Kraus House at Ebsworth Park. What makes our FLW house even more important is that it has its original furniture.