New Frank Lloyd Wright Trail Unveiled: 13 Sites from Rockford to Springfield

by Lori Rackl, Chicago Tribune | May 07, 2018

Arguably the world’s first starchitect, Frank Lloyd Wright amassed a portfolio as thick as a phone book over a career spanning seven decades.

His groundbreaking work — both literally and figuratively — spawned more than 500 buildings, including mega hits like Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum. The designs of this southern Wisconsin native cropped up across 36 states and as far away as Japan.

But the man whom many hail as The Greatest American Architect Ever is inextricably linked to Illinois, where a new tourism trail showcases Wright’s handiwork in the Prairie State. Plans for the trail, made up of 13 Wright sites open to the public, will be formally unveiled by Illinois Office of Tourism Director Cory Jobe at 10 a.m. Monday at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park.

“The idea is to get visitors excited about Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and get them moving from point A to point B, with the ultimate goal of having them spend more dollars in Illinois and putting heads in the beds of our communities,” Jobe said in a phone interview.

Wright fans can go to the state’s tourism website,, to find self-guided itineraries pegged to the trail, such as a 110-mile road trip from Chicago to Rockford, with stops in Oak Park, Geneva, Hampshire and Belvidere. Another option charts a roughly 240-mile journey from Chicago to Springfield, dropping by Oak Park, Kankakee and Dwight before culminating in the capital. . . . Have fun deciphering Wright’s fingerprints versus those of his mentor, Louis Sullivan, in the design details of another trail site, the Charnley-Persky House, which the architects worked on together in Chicago’s Gold Coast. The home on Astor Street is now the headquarters for the Society of Architectural Historians.

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Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610