Five Frank Lloyd Wright Homes You Can Rent Near Chicago
Book a stay in a weekend designed by a master
Plenty of Frank Lloyd Wright devotees fantasize of living in one of the many homes the architect designed, but the price (his Ennis House in L.A. sold for $18 million last year) and notorious upkeep prevent most folks from getting anywhere near that dream.
While the likes of Fallingwater and Robie House may be out of reach, luckily there are a handful of Wright owners who have made their places available for overnight stays. Not surprisingly, several of these are right here in the Midwest, Wright’s birthplace and stomping grounds.
Here’s how to spend the weekend in a house that Wright built.
Emil Bach House
7415 N. Sheridan Rd.
Drive time: Approximately 25 minutes from the Loop
Specs: Commissioned by a Chicago brick baron looking for a little fresh air from off Lake Michigan, this compact project looks like a sprawling Prairie School house squeezed vertically to fit its urban lot. Between the brick piers of its facade and strong horizontal eaves, it’s a jazzy little number with all the early Wright touches you’d expect inside: an open plan, welcoming hearth and leaded glass windows.
Take note of … The handsome built-ins, including the dining table/buffet and the dressing table in one of the bedrooms.
What to do nearby … Twisted Tapas offers French, Italian and Asian twists to the classic Spanish bites, and to drink like a local, settle in with a Fallen Apple — Bank Note blended scotch, apple cider and more — at Rogers Park Social.
2227 Orchid Hills Dr.
Ann Arbor, MI
Drive time from Chicago: Approximately three hours and 30 minutes
Specs: Designed for a University of Michigan economics professor and his musician wife, this wedge of a house sprouts from a hillside on a two-acre site just minutes from downtown Ann Arbor. Built of red cypress and brick, the three-bedroom residence (with pentagon-shaped beds) is composed of equilateral triangles. With a great room that dives right into the surrounding greenery, it is one of Wright’s most nature-hugging homes.
Take note of … The polygonal cutouts on the exterior walls and the adjacent tea house, built after Wright’s death but designed in sympathy with the main house.
What to do nearby … Try tubing the Huron River, tuck into the pierogi at Amadeus or savor Korean fried chicken at Miss Kim, then check out who’s playing at The Ark.
11090 Hawthorne Dr.
Drive time from Chicago: Approximately two hours and 15 minutes
Specs: In the 1940s, a group of scientists from pharmaceutical giant Upjohn engaged Wright to design a subdivision of affordable homes. Only five were built, including this almost bunker-like number in concrete and mahogany. The flat roof of the shoebox-shaped house sweeps up to form a high-ceiling living room with a wall of windows and a patio beyond.
Take note of … The dining table — original to the house — and the wood-framed skylights in the kitchen and bathroom.
What to do nearby … Tour the enviable collection of over 400 vehicles at The Gilmore Car Museum or amp up your FLW experience with a visit to the 1909 Meyer May House in Grand Rapids.
3425 Adams St.
Two Rivers, WI
Drive time from Chicago: Approximately three hours
Specs: At two stories, Still Bend — as Wright called this residence — is an unusual example of the architect’s Usonian houses, his version of affordable, efficient homes on one-level. Adapted from a “Dream Home” design published in Life magazine in 1938, its most stunning feature is the 65-foot long living space — an open plan to the max.
Take note of … The pattern of light coming through the bands of clerestory windows, the unusually high ceiling in the kitchen, and the exterior fireplace built into the facade of the house.
What to do nearby … Bike or hike the Rawley Point Recreational Trail and mosey over to Manitowoc for a visit to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum and a pint at Petskull Brewing.
The Kinney House
474 N. Filmore St.
Drive time from Chicago: approximately three hours 40 minutes
Specs: Built for an attorney and his wife (who had worked as an assistant to Wright’s sister), the house is centered on a double hexagonal core with two bedroom wings (one added later by Taliesin Fellow John H. Howe, who had overseen the construction of the original house). Patrick Kinney acted as his own contractor and even mined and delivered the limestone himself.
Take note of … how Wright’s “diamond modules” plan (all 60- and 120-degree angles) creates dramatic sight lines and a sense of spaciousness in what is not an overly large house.
What to do nearby … Founded in 1852, the Potosi Brewery offers plenty to drink, a bite to eat, tours and The National Brewery Museum, a small but fascinating destination right on site. Taliesin, Wright’s home and studio, is just under an hour away from Lancaster.
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