Tour the former home of a legendary American architect for a fascinating look into his life and work.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built his Oak Park home in 1889, when he was just 22 years old. He lived here for 20 years, adding on as his family grew, and a built a work studio in 1898. Today, the property is open to the public, viewable by guided tour only.
Wright used the house and studio as a place to experiment, adding narrow hallways, vaulted ceilings and custom furniture that would later become his signature style. He and his first wife, Catherine, raised their 6 kids here. He closed the studio and moved to Europe in 1909. Though various families have owned the building over the years, it was later bought back and restored to its 1909 condition, complete with most of the original furniture.
Though it’s something of a pilgrimage for architecture buffs, anyone with an interest in history will enjoy the one-and-a-half hour tour. Knowledgeable guides provide insights into the family’s life as well as Wright’s iconic work. Book ahead or be prepared to wait, as tour group sizes are limited. You’ll need to buy a photography pass on top of the tour ticket if you want to take photos.
One of the key features of the house is the playroom Wright built for his children, complete with a grand piano tucked under the stairs and an airy vaulted ceiling. There’s an innovative second-floor mezzanine that was used as a choir stand, or seating for an audience when his children put on plays.
Visit Wright’s studio, complete with a library and drafting room, for a look into his experimentation with space. There are long, open rooms, natural light, stained glass and domed ceilings. Many of his most famous buildings, including Unity Temple, were designed here.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed 27 buildings in the surrounding Oak Park neighborhood, most of them residential houses. Pick up an audio guide from the gift shop at his home and studio and explore the neighborhood on foot. The quiet, tree-lined streets are filled with stately homes, shops and restaurants.
Downtown Oak Park is located ten miles (16 kilometers) west of Chicago’s Loop. It’s an easy ride on public transport from downtown.
For more details on interesting local attractions and activities, check out our things to do in Chicago page.