“So long Frank Lloyd Wright”. Dave was singing that Simon and Garfunkel song as we drove out of downtown Chicago towards the suburb of Oak Park where you can see 25 buildings designed by the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. We parked the car when we arrived in Oak Park and walked down the street to the architect’s home and studio for a tour. There were houses designed by Frank all along the way.
I did a little searching on the internet and there are about twenty houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for sale right now across the United States, most priced at just over a million dollars. Dave and I got interested in Frank when our book club in Hong Kong read a historical fiction work called Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, which details the extra-martial affair Frank Lloyd Wright had with Mamah Cheney. He built a house for her and her husband. “I’m sorry to hear that,” said Fritz when I told him we had read the Nancy Horan book about Frank Lloyd Wright. Fritz was our guide as we did a tour through Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio and the adjoining house he built in Oak Park for his wife Catherine and their six children. Fritz thinks too much of the Horan book is fiction and he suggested several other more authentic Wright biographies we could read.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed much of the furniture for his house.The livingroom had this little nook for the fireplace with built-in seats on either side. Over the fireplace were engraved the words Truth Is Life. Around this fireplace spread no evil word of any creature.
The house also had a room where Frank and the architects who worked for him, drew plans for houses. There were two ladies from Japan on our tour with us. Frank Lloyd Wright made many trips to Asia and it definitely inspired his designs. He also designed houses for people in Japan. Other design influences were nature –there is a willow tree growing right in the centre of his home in Oak Park– and geometric shapes, which he grew to love from a set of wooden shaped toys designed by a German early childhood expert named Froebel. Wright’s mother bought the toys for him when he was a child.
Fritz our guide was a real Wright expert and I made pages of notes about all the interesting things he taught us about Frank Lloyd Wright as we toured the studio and house.
I learned more about Frank Lloyd Wright when I visited Arizona. Check out these posts…………………..
Next we were off to Wheaton College where quite a number of our former ICS students go to school. Micah Chiang, who played on basketball teams Dave coached, was in Dave’s history class, and was a student in my English class, met us and gave us a tour of the lovely Wheaton Campus. All the buildings were so well taken care of and the campus seemed very warm and friendly. Micah says aside from a few first year classes which are large, most of his classes have only 15-20 students, so they get to know each other and their professors well.
Micah, who is a junior at Wheaton is a residence assistant for one floor of his dorm and he’s responsible for the young men on his floor. Here he and Dave are on the steps of his dorm. I couldn’t go up to Micah’s room because Wheaton has strict rules about separate girls and guy’s quarters, but Dave went up to see it. Micah is getting a degree in health studies but is interested in becoming a professional photographer.
Dave wanted to see the athletic centre. Here he and Micah check out some of the sports honors won by Wheaton students and teams in the past.
We went out for supper with three other ICS graduates who are also studying at Wheaton. Joy Pettigrew who was in my advisory last year is studying sociology and is hoping to do an inner city learning and service course this summer in either Los Angeles, Chicago or Denver. She is singing with a worship group at Wheaton. She told me about a very interesting research paper she wrote about how post traumatic stress syndrome affects so many American war veterans and the implications that has for American society.
Angelica Leung is a freshman who has started a science degree. She wants to become a nurse midwife someday. She is spending Christmas in New York with relatives and is also meeting up with a bunch of last years’ ICS grads who are getting together in New York for Christmas.
Kerri Lee Van Schooten is a Wheaton junior who is getting a degree in international studies. Right now she is working on a project about the conflict between Tibet and China. Kerri Lee’s parents who are missionaries in Hong Kong are home on furlough this year so she will spend Christmas in Nebraska with them.
What next? Our Chicago holiday is over and we are heading back to Winnipeg. Dave wants to be home for his curling match on Saturday and we need to start getting ready for Christmas.