For the Worship of God and the Service of Man

by | Jan 4, 2004

We spent some time today in Frank Lloyd Wright’s “great space.” Unity Temple, home to a Unitarian Universalist congregation still active in Oak Park today, allows for self-guided tours of their world famous modernist gem on weekdays and guided/narrated tours on Saturday and Sunday.

Wright lived and worked only blocks from this location, a corner lot on Lake Street in downtown Oak Park. At the time, 1905 when construction began to 1908 when the church was finished, very few reinforced concrete buildings had ever been built, and none built as an artistic masterpiece in service to an active public use.

Wright was shockingly bold/great in his time and place. Post-Victorian Oak Park was a proper and conventional place at the turn of the century while Wright’s work, though grounded in nature, was provoking, new, and scandalous–an interesting parallel to developments about to erupt in the architect’s personal life, events which eventually led him to Europe and the construction of Taliesen in south central Wisconsin.