The trip to this house was one of the highlights of our brief stay in Chicago. If you are at all interested in this influential American architect you must go! It is the house where he first started to develop his ideas, and is accordingly less flashy and technically daring than some of his later creations. It uses influences from the Arts and Crafts movement, and (we thought) Charles Rennie Mackintosh. He experimented with ventilation and concealed lighting - all this while living with his family in the house for twenty years or so. Part of the building became his design studio and showroom, and here he tried other ideas.
The visit is by way of a guided tour lasting about an hour, conducted (in our case) by a charming and well informed volunteer lady. The tour group is not too big, and there is time for questions and discussion.
Access from central Chicago is easy - go westward on the CTA green line to Harlem/Lake - the end of the line. From here walk to the house - 10 to 15 minutes along shady streets of splendid houses - some of them designed by FLR as well. It's not signposted, so printing out a local streetmap from Google before you go is recommended.
The train trip is interesting in itself - you progress from the glitter of downtown Chicago, through run-down industrial areas, to sad looking suburbs, and at last into upmarket suburbs and urban villages. The American city experience in one.
The station is in the pleasant suburb of Oak Park, and there are several cafes and traditional diners for lunch should you want it.
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