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Frank Lloyd Wright -- Unity Temple in Oak Park Illinois

Timothy. C. Hain, M.D. button Professor of Neurology, Otolaryngology, and Physical Therapy/Human Movement Science, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago IL, USA.

I live in Chicago and I like Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW), so I thought I should check out the FLW stuff in Oak Park, Illinois. Oak Park is a near suburb to Chicago - - easily accessible by car or public transportation (a combination of Metro train and cab would be best I think).

The Unity Temple is a small church located a few blocks away from FLW's home in Oak Park. It is right across from the Oak Park library and the Oak Park Post office. It offers a short window of "tours" on weekends, as well as a very sparse selection of FLW stuff on sale.

The Unity Temple is "operated" by volunteers that sell "tours" of the church. The church doesn't really need a tour as it is so tiny, so in reality they are just (somehow) selling access to a place of worship. How could this be -- I thought that churches were places for all people to worship - -not spectacles for which a group could sell admission. In any case -- the "Tour" consists of a 2 page xeroxed set of notes, and some people sitting at a card-table in the front wishing you good luck as you walk around the roughly 5000 sq feet of the place. I asked the lady if she would show us around - -and if it would take very long. She suggested that because we only had an hour, we should do the "self" tour. I felt that she had misrepresented the situation in an attempt to avoid getting up out of her chair.

Now for the real comments -- The sanctuary is wonderful (see below) -- but there just isn't much to it. Most of the church is occupied by a meeting hall (which looks pretty much like a high-school Gym), and a few rooms with stained glass windows at the top. Once you have spent 5 minutes in the sanctuary - -you have seen the place. I overheard another guy asking the people at the front -- "Is this all there is to it ?" I think that he, (like me), was amazed that this was even considered a "tour". It seems more like a "walk-through".

Practically, the sanctuary is well worth seeing, but the infrastructure of the tour is awful. I think that the Unity Temple should combine with the FLW foundation's architecture tour, and just get integrated into that another stop. The Unity temple, by itself, should not be charging for access.


© Copyright June 26, 2023, Timothy C. Hain, All rights reserved. Dr Hain's CV Various and Sundry