Unity Temple was commissioned by the Unitarian congregation in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1905 and was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright not only lived just a few blocks from the church but his mother was a member of the congregation at the time. What Wright designed not only eschewed the mold for ecclesiastical architecture but, true to Wright’s form, was a new architecture all together.
The church was constructed of concrete and left uncovered by plaster or other decorative facing materials. Wright’s goals were multi-fold: to keep the church within budget and to create a quiet space that would be set away from the busy Lake Street outside and focused on interior uses. On the first count he failed (the final expense was double the budget) but on the second count he excelled. Unity Temple is a breath-taking and peaceful space that continues to awe over one hundred years later.
Unity Temple just completed a two-year, multi-million dollar restoration and the results are jaw-dropping. I finally got to see the interior myself, and couldn’t resist climbing into each of the balconies to catch all of the different views. Best of all, I was surprised and delighted to find the columns, stylized hollyhocks, peaking through the clerestory windows.
Headed to Oak Park? Check out the Unity Temple tours from the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.
Sources and Further Reading:
The history of Unity Temple via the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.
Want to see it for yourself? Take a Unity Temple tour with the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.
Check out some other Frank Lloyd Wright posts I’ve done over the years:
- Ravine Bluffs: A Century-Old Frank Lloyd Wright Development
- If You Ask Frank Lloyd Wright for Tudor Revival
- Celebrating Frank Lloyd Wright’s Birthday (with views from Oregon’s Gordon House)
- What Came Before Prairie Style (a peek into the other buildings in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park neighborhood!)