11 'Wrightseeing' tours, events as Frank Lloyd Wright turns 150

Sunday, 02 July 2017, 01:19:23 AM. By the time he died 58 years ago, Wright had designed more than 500 buildings constructed either during his lifetime or after his death.

Thursday will mark 150 years since the birth of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who was born the year black men were given voting rights in the United States.

The same year, Nebraska was added as the 37th U.S. state, and Alaska was purchased from Russia.

In New Orleans, more than 3,000 people died from Yellow Fever.

All of that happened in 1867.

Though much, obviously, has changed, a constant remains the hold that Wright has on modern architecture.

Still an icon, his designs still draw crowds and continue to influence other architects.

Born in southwest Wisconsin, Wright got his early start in Chicago at 20, when he moved to the city to find work.

Almost two decades after the Great Chicago Fire, the city was still reeling in its rebuild. Wright worked for a handful of firms before he became his own boss. His career quickly took off.

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The Gale House is another Frank Lloyd Wright design, located in Oak Park’s Wright Historic District. | Sun-Times file photo

By the time he died 58 years ago, Wright had designed more than 500 buildings that were built either during his lifetime or after his death — and just as many that weren’t.

Among those was his innovative, Prairie Style home in Oak Park. It became a live-in museum because of its groundbreaking design.

Today, to fully tour his buildings in Oak Park, you need to set aside three hours. That’s just Oak Park.

In Chicago, there are Wright-designed buildings, lobbies and rooms, including the Robie House in Hyde Park.

In Wisconsin, he was behind much of the SC Johnson campus as he put together the designs for two of his most notable commercial structures: the Johnson Administration Building and the Research Tower, two buildings that opened within 11 years of each other and are still undeniably magnificent.

RELATED: 200-mile Frank Lloyd Wright Trail showcases architect’s diverse works

While Lloyd traveled and planted his design seeds in Europe, Japan and elsewhere around the world, the heart of his work is in the Midwest.

His modern creations were ahead of his time. He was ahead of his time. Even on his 150th birthday, Wright is still timeless.

Want to see so firsthand? Here are 11 Wright events and tours — all within relatively short drives of Chicago:

Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Tour

  • 951 Chicago Ave., Oak Park
  • cal.flwright.org/tours/homeandstudio
  • Tour length: 60 minutes
  • Admission: $18 adults, $15 students, seniors (65+) and military. Free for children 3 and under
  • Guests can check out Wright’s first home, which he used to experiment with design concepts as he first developed his architectural philosophy. Interpreters offer insight into Wright’s Prairie-style home.

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio, 951 Chicago Ave. in Oak Park. | Sun-Times file photo

Pedal Oak Park Frank Lloyd Wright Tour

  • 105 S. Marion St., Oak Park
  • cal.flwright.org/tours/pedaloakpark
  • Tour length: 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
  • Admission: $45
  • Guided bicycle tours start at Greenline Wheels. Visitors can explore 21 Wright-designed buildings, including Wright’s Home and Studio, Frank Thomas House, Heurtley House, Cheney House, Furbeck House and more. Guests can bring their own bikes or be provided with one, which is included in tour admission.

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, in Hyde Park. | Sun-Times file photo

Robie House Tour

  • 5757 S. Woodlawn Ave., Chicago
  • cal.flwright.org/tours/robie
  • Tour length: 45-60 minutes
  • Admission: $18 adults, $15 students, seniors (65+) and military. Free for children 3 and under
  • The Prairie-style masterpiece is an iconic look into modern architecture. The house also offers a 90-minute Private Spaces Tour ($55), which lets guests take a peek at rooms which aren’t normally open to the public.

Frank Lloyd Wright Bus Tour

  • 209 S. LaSalle St., Chicago
  • cal.flwright.org/tours/WACbustour
  • Tour length: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Admission: $150
  • Starting at The Rookery in the Loop, the bus tour visits all the top Wright spots in Chicago and Oak Park. The tour, which is only available Mondays and Saturdays, includes a gourmet lunch at Winberie’s in Oak Park.

Oak Park Combination Tour

  • 951 Chicago Ave., Oak Park
  • flwright.org/combinationtours
  • Tour length: Two hours
  • Admission: $28 adults, $22 students, seniors (65+) and military
  • Saving time and money, this tour briefly touches on some of the Wright houses in Oak Park. Visitors will get an interior tour of the House and Studio and a walking view of the houses in the surrounding area.

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The interior of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park. The temple has been closed for renovation and restoration, and is set to open later this month. | Associated Press

Wright Around Oak Park tour

  • 951 Chicago Ave., Oak Park
  • cal.flwright.org/tours/wrightaroundoakpark
  • Tour length: Three hours
  • Admission: $60
  • The exclusive, comprehensive tour shows guests everything Wright in Oak Park. With no more than 10 people, tour groups walk almost a mile around the town, including expanded tours, a 10 percent shopping discount and an exterior tour of the currently closed Unity Temple.

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Frank Lloyd Wright was hired to rehab the lobby of Chicago’s famous Rookery building. | Sun-Times file photo

The Rookery tour

  • 209 S. LaSalle St., Chicago
  • cal.flwright.org/tours/rookery
  • Tour length: 30 minutes
  • Admission: $10 adults, $8 students, seniors (65+) and military
  • Wright, given the job in 1905 to remodel the building’s light court and lobbies, came up with one of his most dramatic interior designs. In the Loop, the building fits squarely in the city’s financial district and offers a balance between Wright’s modern design and the original ironwork.

Bach House tour

  • 7415 N. Sheridan Rd., Chicago
  • cal.flwright.org/tours/bachhouse
  • Tour length: 45 minutes
  • Admission: $12 adults, $10 students, seniors (65+) and military
  • The house contrasts with Wright’s open Prairie houses, instead standing very centered and self-contained. The intimate design has distinctive window designs and an efficient size.

Wright 150 Celebration: Thursday, June 8

  • 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
  • flwright.org/programs/wright150lectureanddinner
  • Event length: 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Admission: $100
  • Starting with a lecture at the Art Institute of Chicago and ending with a dinner at the University Club of Chicago, the official celebration of Wright’s 150th birthday offers a look into the famed architect’s life. Kevin Nute, author of “Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan,” talks about the designer’s inspirations in the Asian country. After the talk, dinner will be held at the University Club of Chicago, 76 E. Monroe St.

Harley Bradley House tours

  • 701 S. Harrison Ave., Kankakee
  • wrightinkankakee.org/house-tour
  • Admission: $17 adults, $12 children (ages 6-12), $5 interior photo pass
  • The start of Wright’s Prairie-style design is found in Kankakee, where a tour can explain the history of the house and the owners’ lives. The visit includes the entire two-story house and the adjacent stable.

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The 15-story, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed SC Johnson and Son Research Tower, in Racine, Wis., was completed in 1950. | USA Today Network

SC Johnson headquarters tour

  • 33 East Four Mile Road, Racine, Wisconsin
  • scjohnson.com/visit
  • Tour length: 90 minutes
  • Admission: Free
  • The tour of SC Johnson’s campus is about an hour and a half drive from the Loop, but it offers some of the largest Wright creations. Featuring the Administration Building and the Research Tower — both Wright-built — a trip to Racine includes the newly opened “On the Wright Trail” exhibit. Visitors have the chance to see examples of the architect’s designs, furniture, textiles and buildings.
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