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Unity Temple: Oak Park, Illinois Part 2 February 11, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Churches, Frank Lloyd Wright, National Historic Landmarks.
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Not far from the Pleasant Home is Unity Temple, another Oak Park National Historic Landmark that many consider one of the crowning achievements of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Unity Temple is the result of years of experimentation in Oak Park with various designs, from geometric Queen Anne style homes, to the first fully mature examples of Prairie style architecture. The Unity Temple is an impressive example of early modernism in architecture.


1905-1907 Unity Temple (Frank Lloyd Wright)

Wright designed the church in 1905 and it was completed by 1907. Wright was a member of the Unitarian Universalist congregation that occupied the church then, as it does now. The building is somewhat unique in its use of reinforced concrete and represents an early example of that material as an architectural/artistic medium.


Evident deterioration

Over 100 years old now, the building is showing some deterioration despite recent renovations. Such is life for a concrete structure. Reinforced concrete, chosen for its inexpensive price, was used for the first time in a “monumentally expressed” work of architecture. (Not the first use overall). While the building show obvious prairie aesthetic, it isn’t the full blown Prairie style we see in some of Wright’s residential work.


Entrance

In April 1970 Unity Temple was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Scarcely eight months later the building was designated a National Historic Landmark. Unity Temple is open to the public for a nominal fee. Find out more in the links I have provided below.

Online Resources
*Unity Temple: Official site, Unity Temple Restoration Foundation
*Unity Temple: National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, National Historic Landmarks listing summary
*Unity Temple: Old Photos (NRHP archives) –
*Wikipedia: Unity Temple

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