A Frank Lloyd Wright Masterpiece Is Open After an $11-million Restoration
If this private island for sale with two Frank Lloyd Wright homes isn’t in your budget, don’t sweat it. You can get your fill of Prairie School-style architecture over in Chicago, where the architect’s iconic Robie House is now open for tours after an $11-million restoration project.
Built for motorcycle manufacturing executive Frederick C. Robie in 1910, the Robie House is considered one of the most stunning architectural works of the 20th century. It exhibits plenty of Wright’s design hallmarks, including horizontal lines, custom leaded glass windows, airy living spaces, and jaw-dropping woodwork, influencing modernist designers for years to come.
But as architecture critic Blair Kamin notes, the Robie House was neglected by a series of owners over the years. From its glass front door being shattered during student demonstrations in the 1960s to sustaining crumbling brickwork and threats of demolition, the structure suffered until the University of Chicago deemed the nonprofit Frank Lloyd Wright Trust as its steward in 1997.
Portions of the home’s restoration have been going on since 2002, but today, after eight weeks of intensive preservation work on the interior — the last stage of the project — the building has regained its former glory. Some of its original furniture designed by Wright, including a dining table and chairs, have been returned to the home, while sconces and other fixtures were recreated and reinstalled.
The living room’s revolutionary open-concept floor plan shows off the restored fireplace, and outside, cantilevered roof eaves have been reinforced. The Robie House’s autumnal color palette has returned, too, exhibiting pale yellow, salmon, and ochre-tinted walls and accents. Earth tones and stark lines define the Prairie School’s aesthetic, which was inspired by the flat, pale yellow landscapes of the Midwest.