Following a painstaking, multimillion-dollar restoration, a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece has been restored to its former glory and reopened to the public with newly expanded tour offerings.
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The Frederick C. Robie House, widely considered to be the epitome of Prairie style, was completed in 1910 as a private residence near the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus.
Renewing Wright’s vision after more than a century of wear and tear wasn’t easy; much has changed in materials and techniques. An extensive list of skilled preservationists, contractors, and architects conducted research for more than a year before beginning work. Original Wright drawings were key in recreating the leaded-glass front door that was destroyed in a student demonstration the 1960s. Light fixtures were reproduced and mounted next to salvageable originals. Thin layers of lime-putty, applied at timed intervals, seamlessly blended old and new wall plaster.
Additionally, several pieces of original furniture, including the home’s dining table and chairs as well as the main floor‘s guest room furniture, are newly on display as part of a loan from the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago.
In all, restoration work involved the dining room, entry hall, main stairway, billiard room, children’s playroom, living room and guest bedroom.
"It certainly is a moment for us to celebrate, but a moment that we also realize we have completed a phase of work that is very important," says Celeste Adams, president and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust. "Now we will look to the future and continued maintenance and continuing to preserve this great jewel of American architecture for generations to come."
Visitors can discover Robie House and learn about neighboring buildings during a new, 30-minute guided audio tour of the exterior. Expanded 50- and 90-minute tours that include the interior of the home are also available.