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Sneak peek into Wright Plus 2018

Eight Oak Park homes featured in annual architectural must-see

January 9th, 2018 2:49 PM

Rollin Furbeck House (Frank Lloyd Wright, 1897) | Courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright Trust/Photo by James Caulfield

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By Lacey Sikora

Contributing Reporter

Wright Plus returns to Oak Park on Saturday, May 19. Along with a handful of Wright designs, this year's walk will feature other architecturally significant homes designed by Wright's contemporaries. 

Eight Oak Park houses and a bonus stop for Frank Lloyd Wright Trust members are all within a walkable neighborhood, adding to the appeal of the walk for visitors and locals alike.

"By chance, we ended up with a really walkable tour this year," says Wright Plus Coordinator Angela Whitaker of this year's lineup. "Like last year, this creates a festive feeling. It's very community-minded, and you get to see more of your fellow participants on the walk."

This year's Wright-designed homes include the Rollin Furbeck House on Fair Oaks Avenue. Built in 1897, the home is an example of Wright's experimental period before he began to focus on the Prairie Style. The home's focus on geometric shapes along a vertical plane make it a must see for Wright fans.

The Peter A. Beachy House is a Wright favorite for visitors. Set amid lush green grounds on Forest Avenue, the Beachy house is considered a masterpiece of Wright's Prairie Style. Designed in 1906, it combines the Prairie Style with Japanese influences.

New to the Walk

One of the oldest homes on this year's walk, the Stennett House on Linden Avenue, has never been open for Wright Plus. Once divided into a two-flat, the house recently has been returned to a single-family home and features Victorian details with modern characteristics. 

With no known architect, the 1885 Victorian style home is a bit of a mystery, which Whitaker says provides motivation for the Trust's volunteer researcher.

"Our researcher is already diving into this house," Whitaker says. "Sometimes, our researcher can discover things and sometimes they cannot. The research is definitely something that our homeowners get excited about. They get to keep a wonderful research paper written on their house."

A block away, another home is new to the walk and has an enviable architectural pedigree for a structure that was originally meant to house animals rather than people.  

Whitaker says that Charles E. Roberts Stable is new to Wright Plus and is generating a lot of excitement. Originally designed by Wright in 1900, the stable was converted to a garage for cars before it was remodeled by architect Charles White in 1929 into a residence. 

The Tudor Revival style cottage is set back on a lawn next to another home on this year's walk, the Charles E. Roberts House.

Frank Lloyd Wright Trust members can experience a bonus building: the First United Methodist Church of Oak Park designed by Tallmadge and Watson and featuring stained glass by Giannini and Hilgart.

Not new, but not the same

A few homes are returning to Wright Plus but with different owners and different looks than they had when featured in earlier years. 

The Charles E. Roberts House, designed by Burnham and Root in 1885 and remodeled by Wright in 1896, has not been open to Wright Plus since 1987.

Whitaker says the house has a completely different look under the care of new owners. 

"It's a stunning house," she says. "People might not even realize that Wright worked on it."

Down the street, the Herman W. Mallen House has not been featured on Wright Plus since 1991. Designed by architect George W. Maher in 1905, the Prairie Style home features art glass with a poppy motif, and Whitaker says that the home has undergone a transformation since 1991.

Also returning after a hiatus is the Burton F. Hales House designed by Henry Fiddelke in 1904-05. The grand Tudor manse on the corner of Chicago and Oak Park Avenues showcases Arts and Crafts elements and hardwood details. 

Whitaker says that due to its prominence in the community, many locals are excited to get a peek into the grand house.

In general, she says that walk attendees don't mind when houses reappear on the tour. "Most people are not upset about going through a Wright House again," Whitaker says. "What's interesting about some of these properties if they haven't been on in 10, 15 or 20 years, is that they can look very different."

Extras for the Wright Plus experience

The recently created Ultimate Saturday package, which included tickets to the walk with a fast pass, lunch at the Nineteenth Century Club and a dinner in a Wright-designed home, already was sold out as of press time. 

"People love the concept of having a custom day, but perhaps they live locally and do not need the hotel and other trips of the Ultimate Plus Weekend package," Whitaker says.

At $2,500 for Frank Lloyd Wright Trust members or $2,650 for nonmembers, tickets are still available for the Ultimate Plus Weekend package, which provides four days of exclusive tours, a hotel stay, fast pass access to the walk and a private gourmet dinner in a Wright home. 

The Ultimate Plus package also includes access to Private Passage, Country Modern, a day-trip excursion on Friday, May 17, which takes participants to Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House in Plano and Wright's Muirhead farm house, a Usonian home in Hampshire that is believed to be the only farm house designed by Wright.

  • Tickets on sale for Wright Plus 2018

    Ticket sales for Wright Plus 2018 recently opened to the public, and the tiered pricing system rewards those who plan ahead and purchase their tickets early. 

    Through Feb. 28, tickets are $90 for non-Trust members. Trust members can purchase up to four tickets at $80 each during this time. Ticket prices will increase by $5 to $10 monthly. 

    Visit www.flwright.org/wrightplus for more information on Wright Plus 2018.

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