Restoring Robie: A Window into the Past

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The Robie House, in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood south of downtown, is a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece and a testament to evolving technology in turn-of-the-century America. It was built in 1910, a crowning culmination of Wright’s Prairie style houses. It also went though a recent restoration and it looks stunning.

Being amidst the University of Chicago campus both hurt and ultimately saved the building over the years. The single family house was converted to student housing at one point, then offices; the art glass front door was destroyed during a student demonstration in the 1960s. The house was threatened with demolition twice, once in 1941 and again in 1957. Wright, himself, fought to save the building both times. In 1963, the house was donated to the University of Chicago. In 1997, the University moved out of the building and let the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust step in to operate tours, raise funds, and restore the historic building. The University continues to own the building today.

Recent work included restoring art glass windows and recreating elements including light features, built-in cabinetry, carpets, the magnesite flooring on the first floor, and the plaster wall covering. The restoration even included recreating the art glass door, the effect of which is breathtaking.

If you go on one architecture tour in Chicago, make it the Robie House. (My other top recommendations? The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and the architecture boat tours.)

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Sources and Further Reading:

I previously wrote about the Robie House and its contemporary neighbor here.

Robie House Restoration Overview from the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust (you can also read the history of the Robie House here)

Want to go on a tour? Learn more and make reservations here.

Interested in Frank Lloyd Wright? Check out some of these previous posts:

S.C. Johnson: the Wright Office Building

Views of Unity Temple

Ravine Bluffs: A Century-Old Frank Lloyd Wright Development

If You Ask Frank Lloyd Wright for Tudor Revival

What Came Before Prairie Style

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4 thoughts on “Restoring Robie: A Window into the Past

  1. Hi Susie, thanks so much for your wonderful blog posts. I am so grateful that this Frank Lloyd Wright house was saved and really happy that it is being restored. Hard to imagine someone even thought it should be torn down. (I am a friend of Harvey and Sue).
    MIchele Olsen

    Like

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