Unity Temple was built in 1909 in the Oak Park district I wrote about last week.

It was considered by FLW to be one of his finest accomplishments and by many to be one of the first great works of modern architecture.

It was a very interesting space to see because, as I’ve mentioned, the thing about modern architecture is that we’ve become used to it. For us, it’s the norm. So it’s hard to comprehend what’s really revolutionary or interesting about it.

I love touring churches because the architecture of the space is so reflective of the belief system. For example, Sainte Chappelle or Notre Dame or St. Peter’s Basilica all have more of an imposing, grand feeling, where the churchgoer is meant to feel his smallness in comparison to the greatness of God.

By comparison, in the Unity Temple, there is no seat in the house that is more than 40 feet away from the pulpit. It feels intimate, cozy, and welcoming. Pretty cool, and I bet that was a rather novel idea in 1909.

As always, the light and details were incredible.


Here’s the obligatory Sarah-being-dorky shot. Thanks R.

If you ever make it to Chicago and you like architecture at all, Oak Park is definitely a great place to visit.

Happy Thursday!

Unfortunately Mr. Wright was definitely not a “Mr. Right” kind of guy (hardiharhar) — what an egotistical ladies man he was! But, that aside, you can’t take away from him that he was an incredible visionary when it came to architecture.

We took a tour of his personal home + studio on our first day of our Chicago trip. The fascinating thing is how his own home is decidedly not prairie style, which is the movement he was so much a part of and is so prevalent in Oak Park. Instead, his home was very much his laboratory…he added and changed and tweaked over the 20 years he lived there.

If you know anything about FLW, you have to know the importance of the hearth. For a guy with many wives and affairs and not a great track record, he somehow still recognized the importance of the hearth as a family gathering place.

especially in those times, the hearth was a source of all the important things: warmth, fuel for the cooking fire, and consequently, socializing and fellowship.

The living room that you see when you first walked in. One of the more traditional spaces as it was the first part of the house he built, but definitely not Victorian, which is what his contemporaries would have been doing more of.

This was the original dining room, which he later turned into the children’s study room. So when he did, he scaled everything in the room down to be child friendly.

The light in the dining room is intricately designed. He never left any details to chance or mail order catalog. A total control freak.

The master bedroom has a bit more feminine feel because, in fact, it was partially a woman’s space too. It also has some native influence which is kind of interesting and reflects some of his Wisconsin roots.

The playroom is crazy awesome. It was an addition on the house, and can you imagine having a space like that for your playroom as a kid?

Ahh the studio. Be still my heart.

What an incredible space this is. We could get into all sorts of details about how the roof holds up the balcony, etc., but really, it just comes down to visual impact. The light is lovely, the space feels open and welcoming and inspiring. And that’s really what matters, isn’t it?

Visiting Chicago? Set up a tour at gowright.org. I highly recommend!

In honor of my very first cooking class last night, I thought we’d talk about the food we had in Chicago today. It is a delicious city!

Deep dish pizza of course is a very big deal in Chicago. And everyone there is passionately for or against different places to have it. It would seem that Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s were the two that came up most. The cabbie said Lou Malnati’s, the next guy said Giordano’s, etc. etc. So we ended up trying Giordano’s and it was incredibly good. So different from pizza you normally encounter.

We also knew we had to try a Chicago style hotdog, so Portillo’s was one of our stops.

This place was crazy chaotic, with people yelling out your orders and crowds and tons and tons of tables. It’s actually set up more like a food court almost which kind of confused me at first. It was not a place to go for a relaxing meal. But the hotdog was good and glad we had that experience!

We quite accidentally stumbled onto Sprinkles Cupcakes (the awesome building caught my eye!). And look at the line!

These cupcakes + their branding were delicious!

And one of the last things I have to tell you about is Chocolate at the Pen. Because it was fancier and therefore my purse was tinier I don’t have good pics, but we snapped a few Iphone pictures on R’s phone I’ll rustle up for tomorrow.

but, wow.

Literally tables and tables covered in desserts of all shapes and sizes. And the best part was the chocolate almond martini. I’d drink another one of those right now and it’s 7AM :-)

Another place we hit that we weren’t expecting to like so much was XOCO, a Rick Bayless restaurant. It was really really good Mexican food and a menu that wasn’t something I’d come across really (and I’ve been to Mexico lol) – there were no “fajitas” and “quesadillas” on the menu.

So that about wraps up the food re-cap! I hope you enjoyed and you’re not too hungry. I’m off to a day of meetings + the dentist, yippee!

My husband is the King of Research.  So when it comes to travel and/or big decisions, he is sure to become an expert before making any real moves — and I, for one, am eternally grateful for that.  I can be a bit more of a dive-in kind of personality and you often miss really good stuff that way.  As he was planning our surprise Chicago getaway, he uncovered the Chicago Greeter program and I’m so glad he did.

Basically, if you book it at least 10 business days in advance, you can take a personalized, private tour of the city.  The Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture offers this service free to approved applicants (you basically just need to prove you’re a tourist and staying at a hotel, or something along those lines).

Our tour guide was Jim, who had lived in Chicago for 30+ years and now in his retirement spends his time sharing his love for the city.  He was super knowledgeable and took us to see whatever we wanted to see.

We said we liked history and architecture and we had a lunch reservation at 1, so he showed us all the sites and landed us  directly in front of our chosen restaurant at 1:00 on the dot.

Ever since our fantastic Venice walking tour with Louisa, I’ve become a huge fan of doing this type of thing in a new city.  There is nothing quite like getting the perspective of a local.

More + better photos to come — I especially can’t wait to show you Oak Park!  But in the meantime, I thought this was just an awesome travel resource.  It would be nice if more cities did something like this program.

How was your weekend friends?

 

One of our first stops when we got to Chicago was Navy Pier. Unfortunately we got a little shafted on the weather while we were there – the normal temps should have been more mid 60’s – but it was quite the cold snap and never really got above 50 and cloudy the whole time. That’s okay though, it was still a great time!

We went on a tour later on that filled in some information for us. Apparently after World War II, there wasn’t much use for the Pier anymore, so it went through several uses until about 20 years or so ago it became what it is today. It has a rather carnival like atmosphere. I can only image in the summer it’s a lot of fun, although I bet crazy crowded!

Since it was freezing and we were basically just wearing jackets over our Charleston clothes, we didn’t go up in the ferris wheel. We wandered up and down and checked out the sites. Luckily there were some interior walkways too, because the wind off Lake Michigan was frigid.


Near the end, we stumbled onto the Smith Stained Glass Museum, which is free and actually really really cool. There were a ton of different pieces, from Louis Comfort Tiffany and others.

Walking back around 6:00 on Friday we had to laugh because the pre-teens just started pouring in. I suppose it’s the place to hang out when you’re that age.

All I know is, I am officially old, because there is absolutely no way I would have worn shorts + a tank top the way all those little gals were ;-)

So that’s Chicago part one! Much more to share with you, so stay tuned. How is your week going?

…for a MUCH needed getaway to — Chicago! It was my birthday present and I’m so excited about it. My better half knows me so well…in my world, nothing is a better present than an experience. It seems time is the most precious commodity we have, so I’ll take a weekend getaway with my favorite person in the world over stuff any day of the week!


{Chicago City Map by SummitRidge}

Neither of us has ever been to Chicago, and so we are continuing our quest to see the world little by little. Of course, Chicago was on my list because of Frank Lloyd Wright and the famous architecture. I am also excited to check out Navy Pier and try deep dish pizza.

have you ever been? any recommendations?

So, needless to say, I will be off for a few days, but don’t worry – I have some guest posts lined up! See you soon!