S.096 – Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street, Oak Park, Illinois
This is the first major project with reinforced poured concrete. There are a lot of caveats and asterisks that could follow that statement, given that concrete dates to ancient times. It was, however, a groundbreaking use of concrete at the time – using it in a very visible fashion rather than as a base for ornamentation designed to conceal it.
Wright attended this church regularly, but was not technically a member. The property is actually composed of two conjoined buildings: the Temple, which faces Lake Street, and the Unity House, the parish house behind.
Tours are available; it was self-guided when I attended in 1991, but guided more recently. Photographed in August 1991 and on October 19, 2014.
In 2015 and 2016, the church underwent a massive $23 million restoration effort. I have included photos of the building “under wraps” taken on March 29, 2016.
Construction, March 2016:
View from the post office across the street shows the Temple (left) and House (right)
Limited views from the south side of the building showing the back of the Unity House:
Views from the more common west and north sides of the building:
Views from the east side of the building – an adjoining apartment parking lot and entry ramp to the other building entrances: