Despite visiting before, I don’t think I realized the sprawl of Chicago until I took the train from the airport into the city. We made our way through the stations, each suburb looking similar to the next. But unlike in my home city of Atlanta, all of it was considered to be greater Chicago. I spent my second day in town on a rainy day architecture tour with Architecture Tours of Chicago, which only whetted my appetite for design.
So on my second day in Chicago, I took the train 45 minutes west to Oak Park. There were cute stores and restaurants lining the street along the rail line. I’d come here to learn about Frank Lloyd Wright, someone I’d studied in art history class, but later learned that Ernest Hemingway also called this neighborhood home. The Ernest Hemingway Birthplace serves as a museum.
I found Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence all around, from the homes in his signature style that differed greatly from the Victorian mansions around them. I toured one of his homes in Alabama last year and when I realized I was close to his studio, I couldn’t miss a visit. The tour started in the original wing of the home, which didn’t look like much from the outside. But inside, his style was unmistakable.
He transformed an ordinary home into a work of art, adding details like custom stained glass, dining room furniture made specifically for the space, and a childrens “playroom” that looked more like a grand, but small, theater. It’s well worth the trek out there to see where one of the nation’s greatest architects lived and worked.
If You Go
I stayed at Fieldhouse Jones and Freehand Chicago during my stay, both close to the L. You can get to Oak Park by taking the Green line from Clark/Lake. Purchase tickets to tour the home from the gift shop at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio. They last an hour and cost $18. Photos are allowed inside, but not video. And read about one of his famous Los Angeles homes in this piece on The Atlantic.