Thursday, May 22, 2014

Another Frank Lloyd Wright Tour -- of Chicago's Emil Bach House -- and a Guide

(Note: Links connect with official tour information, unless noted. Also view Wikipedia's sortable list of Frank Lloyd Wright works and an online guide to Public Wright Sites.)

Yesterday I visited the Emil Bach House, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home that has stood at 7415 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago since 1915, but has been open for public tours for just the past 2 weeks. (The home is now a B&B.)

This was the third FLW tour I've taken in 2014 and about the thirtieth in my lifetime. I've also seen the exterior of nearly 100 other Wright creations. (According to Wikipedia, Wright completed 532 homes and buildings, though some have been demolished and a handful of his designs have been built posthumously.)

But for the first 20 years of my life, despite living within an hour of dozens of Wright sites, I never explored any, if I even knew who he was. And even in living in Los Angeles in the early '90s, I didn't even ever drive past, let alone tour, some of his famed California homes.

It was only after I returned to Skokie in early 1993 that I took a tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park and photographed the exterior of several nearby homes along Forest Avenue, as well as throughout Oak Park, River Forest and beyond. (Oak Park Wright Map; Guided Walking Tour)

So while I'll post the bulk of my Bach house photos below--as well as pictures of 9 other Wright homes I shot yesterday--I'll precede them by citing some other tourable or notable structures by America's most famous architect that may be Wright in your backyard. (This isn't comprehensive and focuses mainly on sites I've visited. Homes are typically named in perpetuity for Wright's original client.)

Chicago area

Oak Park is the obvious starting point. Besides the Home & Studio and Forest Ave. cited above, Unity Temple is glorious and offers tours. (See this recent post.)

It isn't tourable, but the early William Winslow House (1894) in River Forest is one of my favorites. (Wikipedia)

Robie House in Hyde Park is widely considered one of Wright's greatest masterpieces. (Photos within this blog post.)

Charnley-Persky House in Chicago, dating from 1892, is credited to Wright's mentor, Louis Sullivan, but some of the design is his.

Rookery Building Lobby, downtown Chicago.

North Shore along and near Sheridan Road offers a good cluster of Wright homes (no interior tours), including the Ravine Bluffs Development (Wikipedia) and other homes in Glencoe, the Ward Willits House in Highland Park--the first example of Prairie Style architecture--and the Hiram Baldwin House in Kenilworth. (Photos below)

Riverside also has several homes, including the Avery Coonley House, plus the Coonley Playhouse, for which Wright designed his most famous art glass windows. No tours that I know of.


B. Harley Bradley House, Kankakee, IL. Only recently open for tours and next to the Warren Hickox house, also by Wright. (See photos in this post.) 

Dana-Thomas House, Springfield, IL. One of Wright's greatest homes and a terrific tour. Any trip to Illinois' state capital should include a visit.

S.C. Johnson Wax Building and Wingspread, Racine, WI. The research building at S.C. Johnson's headquarters should make a great tour even better.

Unitarian Meeting House, Madison, WI. Near Wright's hometown of Spring Green, Madison has several homes he designed--including the "Airplane House"--but I don't know of any tours.

Monona Terrace, Madison, WI. Wright initially proposed a design for a convention center in 1938; it was built in 1997, 38 years after his death.

Taliesin and Hillside Studio, Spring Green, WI. This was Wright's home after he left Oak Park in scandal in 1909 with a mistress, who sadly was killed in a fire that destroyed the initial house. 

Annunciation Church, Wauwatosa, WI (near Milwaukee)

Meyer May House, Grand Rapids, WI. A magnificent house with great art glass windows and one of the best of all FLW home tours I've taken, with Free Admission to boot.  

Historic Park Inn Hotel and Stockman House, Mason City, IA. I stayed at the hotel last year; its restoration is astonishing. (See more photos in this post.)

John Christian House (Samara), West Lafayette, IN. I haven't been here, but supposedly a good example of late Wright (1954) with tours given by the home's longtime owner. 

Westcott House, Springfield, OH. I should have visited on a recent road trip to Columbus and Dayton, Ohio, but didn't know about it until too late.

Elsewhere in the U.S.

Fallingwater, Mill Run, OH. Perhaps Wright's most famous residential masterpiece is about 90 minutes southeast of Pittsburgh. The nearby  Kentuck Knob in Dunbar, PA, is also worthwhile if not nearly as resplendent.

Solomon Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY. A great art museum--though not NYC's best--in a building that itself is a true masterpiece.

Martin House, Buffalo, NY. One of his greatest homes; I haven't yet been here.

Florida Southern College, Lakeland, FL. I haven't been here either.

Price Tower, Bartlesville, OK. I have however been to Bartlesville and whined my way into a tour even though I was too late.

Taliesin West, Scottsdale, AZ. Wright last home and also a school of architecture.

Arizona Biltmore Hotel, Phoenix, AZ. I've neither seen nor stayed here. 

Los Angeles. The two wondrous homes I've toured--Hollyhock House and the Ennis House--seem to either be under restoration or no longer offer tours. But there are several homes in the area (see Wikipedia list linked at top) and LA Tours seems to give tours of several exteriors, though not inexpensively. The Anderton Court Shops (Wikipedia) on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is both easy to see and miss.
Xanadu Gallery, (originally V.C. Morris Gift Shop), San Francisco, CA. Pretty nifty; something of a mini-Guggenheim.

Hopefully the above can be a good starting point. Depending on where you live, other public Wright sites may be much more accessible and with the Bach and Bradley house as examples, it seems more formerly private homes are opening to the public.

With the Memorial Day weekend upon us, for those looking for a Wright road trip from the Chicago area, I'd suggest Johnson Wax in Racine for a brief day trip, the Meyer May House in Grand Rapids or Dana-Thomas House in Springfield, IL for trips under 4 hours of driving each way and the Park Inn and Stockman House in Mason City, IA for something a bit longer. Be sure to check open hours and note that the sites mentioned above have varying policies on interior photography.

OK, now I'm back to Bach. Photos of the Emil Bach House are below, followed by others from north suburban Chicago. You may need to click under the page break to see them. (All photos by Seth Arkin.)


The next 5 photos are from the Ravine Bluffs Development in Glencoe, and the subsequent 2 are also in Glencoe.


Hiram Baldwin House, Kenilworth
Ward Willits House, Highland Park

1 comment:

Ken said...

Do you have a penultimate favorite FLW building?