New Self-Guided Tours Highlight Frank Lloyd Wright's Work In Illinois

May 7, 2018

Two new road trip itineraries in Illinois will feature buildings designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who spent the first two decades of his career based in Chicago and Oak Park.

One of the tours heads west across northern Illinois, beginning with four sites in Chicago and two in Oak Park – including the Wright Home and Studio, where he experimented with many of his design ideas – where Wright played a role in creating the building.

The tour continues to the Col. George Fabian villa in Geneva, the Muirhead Farmhouse in Hampshire, and the Pettit Memorial Chapel in Belvidere, concluding at the unique Kenneth Laurent House in Rockford.

The second tour also begins with the Chicago and Oak Park sites before heading toward the state capital city. The B. Harley Bradley House is the architectural stop in Kankakee, and the Frank L. Smith Bank is featured in Dwight. The Dana-Thomas House in Springfield is the final Wright creation on this tour.

Both itineraries – which can be downloaded from EnjoyIllinois.com -- also suggest other activities along the way, such as Chicago’s architecture cruise, the Oak Park walking tour of Wright-designed homes, and various eateries and tourist attractions.

This map pinpoints the 13 Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings open to the public on the new Frank Lloyd Wright Trail.
Credit Illinois Office of Tourism

The Frank Lloyd Wright Trail was authorized by the state legislature in late April and announced officially by the Illinois Office of Tourism in connection with the start of National Travel and Tourism week this week.

Official Frank Lloyd Wright Trail signs will be posted throughout the state this summer, officials said.

“The new trail celebrates Frank Lloyd Wright history and his connection to Illinois,” said Cory Jobe, Director of the Illinois Office of Tourism, “allowing tourists from around the world to discover the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, one of America’s greatest architects.”

The Frank Lloyd Wright Studio on Chicago Avenue in Oak Park is where Wright's greatness began. This landmark structure served as Wright’s private residence and studio from 1889 to 1909 — the first 20 years of his career.
Credit Frank Lloyd Wright Trust

Last year, the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust welcomed more than 150,000 visitors to its five sites, from all corners of the globe – with 90,000 visiting the Home and Studio alone. The non-profit trust, based in Chicago, is dedicated to preserving Wright’s legacy.

“We are looking forward to the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail in Illinois,” said Celeste Adams, President & CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, “and welcoming guests from around the world to see all that Frank Lloyd Wright has to offer and experience Wright history here in Illinois.”

Wright was known for his uniquely American style of architecture. His creative period spanned more than 70 years. In addition to houses, he also designed offices, churches, schools, hotels, museums and other structures.