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The architectural beauty of Oak Park is unmatched. Hailing as one of the country’s most prominent architectural areas, Oak Park boasts the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes and buildings, the architect’s magnificent home and studio, Maher’s Pleasant Home, the Victorian birthplace of renowned author Ernest Hemingway, and a number of other prominent architects. Additionally, the community holds a collection of 15 charming “Painted Ladies,” a term used to describe Victorian-style homes and their multi-colored painting schemes.

Twenty-five Frank Lloyd Wright structures, completed between 1889 and 1913, include the architect’s extensive sprawling home and studio, the Robie House and the Unity Temple.

Frank Lloyd Wright, his wife, Catherine Tobin, and their six children lived in the private home and studio for the first two decades of Wright’s architectural career—between 1889 and 1909.

While taking up residence in Oak Park, the architect established his practice and defined the architectural “Prairie Style” technique. His Studio Annex stands as one of the most remarkable workspaces in the world.

The Robie House, built for Frederick C. Robie in 1910, is the embodiment of Wright’s progressive Prairie Style architecture. The structure is regarded as one of the most significant sites of American architectural history.

The Unity Temple was designed in 1905 at the site of a church which had been burned to the ground by a devastating fire. This structure was Wright’s first publicly commissioned design and remains as one of the most famous architectural sites worldwide.

Placed on the list of National Historic Landmarks in 1996 is the Pleasant Home, designed by George W. Maher in 1897. The well-known Prairie School architect created this luxurious 30-room home for John Farson, an investment banker and philanthropist living in the Oak Park community. The Pleasant Home Foundation is restoring the structure as the  Historic House Museum.

Oak Park served as the birthplace and early residence of Ernest Hemingway, the Nobel Prize-winning author, in 1899. The impressive Queen Anne-style Victorian home in which he was born, designed by Wesley Arnold in 1890 for Hemingway’s grandmother, features a sweeping porch and turret, still maintaining many of its original features.

Oak Park is home to a wealth of additional notable architects who have designed many of the community’s most significant structures. H.C. Fiddelke proffered his designs for the original Holmes School, the Burton Hawks Mansion, the Jennie A. June row homes and the C.E. Hemingway Home.

Marion Mahony (Griffin) was the second woman to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s architectural program. Mahony arrived in Oak Park to join the Wright’s architecture practice, collaborating on many well-known building designs, art glass and furniture. While working at the studio, she met fellow architect and future husband Walter Burley Griffin, who arrived at Wright’s studio in 1905.

William Drummond and Charles E. White, Jr. also came to Oak Park to become part of Wright’s firm. Drummond is most noted for his design of the Second Presbyterian Church in Oak Park, while White designed important Oak Park buildings including the Oak Park Post Office and the Grace Episcopal Church Rectory.

Proud of its architectural history, the Oak Park Visitors
Center offers patrons a walking tour through the community’s noteworthy homes and buildings. For more information on touring the area’s outdoor architectural museum, visit the Visitor’s Center at www.visitoakpark.com.

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A great time to buy
Now has never been a better time to locate to Oak Park. The housing value in the village has risen significantly in the last five years, from an average sale price of $369,286 in April of 2002 to $467,689 in April of 2007. “The reason for this is simple,” Steve Scheuring, a realtor and Oak Park expert from Gagliardo Realty, stated. “In the boom of the real estate market of Chicago area-wide, people realized that Oak Park is as close to the city as you can get while still having beautiful tree-lined streets, great schools, shopping, food and transportation.”

Scheuring also explained that Oak Park has a tremendous supply of homes for sale at this time. Housing styles ranging from late-1800 Victorians to the mid-1900 ranch and split-level styles are readily available, while the Prairie Style, made popular by master architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and 1920s to 1940s large brick homes on the northwest end are continuously in constant demand.

“The closer you are to the center of town, the older the home. The community was built from inward out,” Scheuring explained. “So, if you want a more solid brick home, but closer to central Oak Park, you can find it. We have a small ‘estate’ section of Oak Park near the high school that also has some very large brick Prairie homes.”

The city has maintained an alluring appeal as an opulent Chicago suburb. Contributing to this are the “good schools, great atmosphere, diversity, small-town feel and the family-friendly environment,” Schuering said.

It’s the perfect time to buy—why not check out what Oak Park has to offer!

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