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Chicago Architectural History - Frank's White City

Updated on January 23, 2012

Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture

Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio - Oak Park, Illinois.
Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio - Oak Park, Illinois.

Varied Paths, Ohio and Illinois

Frank Lloyd Wright was born in 1867 after the Civil War, as my great grandfather mustered out of the Union Army headed to Madison County, Ohio near the city of London to set up shop for building thre National Road (Route 40).

In 1870, Frank was 3 years old and my great grandfather died just before my grandfather was born on a farm in Camridge Ohio, three counties to the east of Madison. No running water, no electricity. Outhouses and lanterns.

In 1887, Frank (age 20) moved to Chicago, Illinois and my grandfather, just 17, has been working the farm for 9 years already, 12 hours a day. Somewhere, sometime, their paths crossed, because my father had Frank Lloyd Wright materials and all that was lost when he himself died. I don't know how those paths crossed, it must have been a good story about the farm and the White City, farmers, engineers, and architects. Interestingly enough, Frank Lloyd Wright and Hugh McCaskey Inglish died in the same year, 1959.

F. Robie House, Chicago


The Chicago School

The Chicago School of Architecture is not a school. It is a style and styles were called schools in the 19th and early 20th century, Another example is the word "House." One of my martial arts is named the House of Wisdom. House here means school and school means style.

The Chicago style was often called Commercial Style between about 1890 - 1910, when Frank Lloyd Wright was becoming active in architecture, streamlining old hulking European designs and hanging everything in cantilever, while my grandfather was just getting running water and electricity into the farmhouses (he had two) in eastern Ohio. he could have used Frank's help.

The room above is the dining hall of the Dana-Thomas house that Wright designed and built around 1904. He always constructed the furniture to go with the house. This abode is prairie style architecture, a more flowing space than the cookie-cutter boxes that were coming into fashion. Frank filled much oif the Chicago suburbs and city with his work, adding a new chapter to Chicago Style.

One innovation that Wright introduced was the doublepaned window that is sound proof.

The Wright School, Chicago

The Robie House was built around 1908 in Chicago. It is another example of praier style architecture, with plenty of room.

Go and look at the Student Work page of the Taliesin link and view the jaw-dropping innovation of housing and landscape design that today's Wright students are developing.

So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright. Simon and Garfunkel.


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      C-Lee, thank you for your observations and feedback! A Hub can be a sort of art presentation, I think.

    • C-Lee profile image

      C-Lee 9 years ago

      There's something about the way these structures harmonize with nature that just looking at them creates a sense of inner peace. And then Simon & Garfunkel complimented it all musically. I enjoyed this a lot. Thank you, Patty.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Thanks for all of this infomation! To live in the Wright House must be a dream! I hope steph's assocaite has sent many picutres to her.

      That hotel in Japan is a treasure, to be sure.

    • Live N Learn profile image

      Live N Learn 9 years ago from Las Vegas

      As a former Architecture student, Frank Lloyd Wright was one of my idols. I like most his Imperial Hotel in Japan because it survived many earthquakes.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 9 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Patty, you surely are one of my favorite hubbers! An excellent history and lots of information. One of my former colleagues in Issaquah, Washington, lives in a Frank Lloyd Wright home. It is a treasure to behold. Incredible work, as always! Steph

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 9 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      He is surely one of my favorites.