Distinctive and striking Sam Marts, a well-known architect and neighbor to denizens of Bucktown/ Wicker Park, was one of more than 500. They comprised the army of volunteers who served as sherpas and guards for the 2000+ visitors to the Wright Plus House Walk, an annual event where private owners of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes open their doors, put protective wraps on their rugs, and in other ways get ready for the masses to invade their home.
Marts’ account of his Wright fascination may be shared by many guides or guided that day. He recounts, “This is my fourth year helping out at the Wright Plus House Walk and being a tour guide here. It probably goes back about fifteen years when I brought some visiting Soviet architects to take the tour and I felt what it was like to be in his house after hours. We spent time in the dining room—he had definite ideas about how people respond to each other, and especially when dining. It was magical for me, changing my opinion of his work forever…and here I am today…”
Annual Frank Lloyd Wright Trust House Walk is a Major Tourist Draw
About half of the visitors came from out of town—some from very far away. They ranged from the relatively unschooled in Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy who stumbled upon this weekend and event by accident, to those who seem to make the pilgrimage to this event an annual rite.
For those of us who have taken many Frank Lloyd Wright tours before- -in Chicago, Oak Park, Taliesen, Taliesen West, and Falling Water—it’s the faster-than-the-speed-of-light seeming tour patter that is most striking. Herding the masses through these homes in an efficient way seems to demand very truncated Cliff notes type docent presentations. If you want more context, this headlines-only type tour probably isn’t your first choice. Unlike the usual Frank Lloyd Wright tours that operate like speedy well-oiled machines, this one requires that you be ready to spend a lot of time on queues waiting for your quick glimpses.
For Chicagoans who don’t get out to Oak Park too often but who always like the vibe when they do, this tour is also a chance to check out the friendly town scene. The walking tour map includes some suggested stops for brunch and lunch—walking just a few blocks more off the map opens up even more possibilities.
Wright Plus House Walk is an annual event with tickets typically available for sale months in advance of the event. Bookmark the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust website for early warnings and ticket sales for the 2019 tour.
Photos: All photos of buildings and interiors courtesy of Frank Lloyd Wright Trust; photos of queues on tour by Peter Kachergis; all other photos as indicated.
Editor’s Note: What’s it like to own a home that is part of the Wright Plus Home Walk? Read this interview with Wright-designed home owner Linda Piccinini here on what it feels like to live in a Frank Lloyd Wright home and to be part of this tour.