Friday, September 21, 2012

So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright

I hadn’t thought of the song in years. But the tune and first words of “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright” were there as we walked the streets in the neighborhood around Wright’s home and studio in Oak Park, Ill.

Simon And Garfunkel “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright”

So long, Frank Lloyd Wright.
Bust of Wright
I can't believe your song is gone so soon.
I barely learned the tune
So soon
So soon.

I'll remember Frank Lloyd Wright.
All of the nights we'd harmonize till dawn.
I never laughed so long
So long
So long.

Architects may come and
Architects may go and
Never change your point of view.
When I run dry
I stop awhile and think of you

So long, Frank Lloyd Wright
All of the nights we'd harmonize till dawn.
I never laughed so long
So long
So long.

If you were/are a fan of Simon and Garfunkel, surely you remember the tune. It was the start of a life-long interest for me in Frank Lloyd Wright. His architecture has always had great appeal to me—no two houses are the same, the furniture is phenomenal and there is the sparseness and elegance of clean lines and simple design that are calming.

So I was a little more than pleased when my husband and I – because I had waited too long to garner a hotel room in Chicago – ended up in Oak Park this week, staying at The Writer’s Inn. And although I know I’m supposed to be promoting Allen County in this blog….let’s face it. Sometimes you need to get out of town.

Oak Park is a fairly easy day trip or weekend away—an easy drive except the Interstate through Chicago—but maybe there are fewer trucks on the weekend. I was hard pressed to believe we’re in a recession based upon the number of trucks we encountered.

Oak Park is not only the home of Frank Lloyd Wright but also the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway, an author my freshman English prof was sure I would like because I was a journalism major and Hemingway was, for part of his career, a journalist. The Hemingway Museum is small and run by volunteers but I learned some things about the man that I would never have learned during a 3 p.m. Tues-Thurs class. I’m still working on liking Hemingway after all these years but Wright has been a much easier obsession.

Two novels have been published about Wright and his women in the last several years:

I’ve read both and highly recommend them. “Loving Frank” is somewhat disturbing given the ending of his relationship with fellow Oak Park resident and client Mamah Borthwick Cheney. Their affair scandalized Oak Park society at a time when Victorian morals still had a certain sway over people. When you look at photos of Wright it’s hard to imagine him as a womanizer….but he was. And sometimes this overshadowed his talent.
Front of Wright's Home

When you go to his home/studio, you can tour that OR tour just the various neighborhoods where Wright homes are located OR both. We chose just to walk the neighborhood around his home but know there is a return trip in the offing at some time. The photo ops are far too good to pass up. And the food at the Hemingway Bistro is worth the return trip.

If you’ve read some of my other blog posts, you know I often promote bringing kids to downtown Fort Wayne to take pictures of architectural elements. Fort Wayne is not without great and/or unique architecture (I know a former Fort Wayne mayor who thinks the building the History Center is housed in is phenomenally ugly—I beg to differ but to each his own) and taking kids around to look at buildings and take photos is a wonderful way to explore your city. So there I’ve said it again…get out of your car and walk around. You miss far too much zooming through downtown.

Walking is one of the beauties of Oak Park and many parts of Fort Wayne. You can walk and see wonderful pieces of a city that you simply cannot explore from your vehicle.
A home designed by Wright in the 1920s

So this is how I spent my wedding anniversary vacation…and hopefully will spend a few more mini-breaks in the not so distant future. And kudos to the people of Oak Park. What a welcoming group of people. They well understand hospitality and its importance to visitors.

Another Wright design--the original house burned so he "improved" on his original design

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