Musings of a Museum Fanatic: Unity Temple

6.04.2018

Unity Temple


The last time I was in Oak Park and able to actually visit the Unity Temple during the IAM Conference it was closed for a 23-million-dollar preservation project. I was excited that it was included during the Wright Plus 2018 and was actually open now for visitors. The original Unity Church burned down in 1905 and Frank Lloyd Wright who had the hook up through his mother, who was a member of the church, got the job to build them a new one.






Having seen the exterior many times in book, photos and several times in person I knew that this would not be like any house of worship I have ever visited. When you start to walk in you don’t just walk up to the doors and enter. You’re taken along the side of the building then you enter in a little garden area. After making the turns you find yourself in front of the doors that state "For the worship of God and the service of man" That saying perfectly describes Wright's thoughts for the building, the Unity Temple worship space and the Unity House social area. 






You'll notice the floral pattern that is throughout the building, it's hollyhocks. After looking up what they look like in non-geometric Frank Lloyd Wright form I can actually see how they're supposed to be hollyhocks. Also I'm sure you're wondering why the windows as so high up, giving it that almost jailhouse chic look. Those actually have a very practical reason. Since the Unity Temple in on Lake Street which was and still is one of the busiest streets in Oak Park, keeping the windows high prevent sound from getting into the temple.




Even though the temple is simple in it's design Wright thought through and had a reason for every single detail. From the hollyhocks to the lines that run through the entire temple to the fact that you enter below the sanctuary and catch glimpses of it as you finally enter up into it. Our guide said that no one in the sanctuary is more than 48 feet from the altar.





After finally getting the opportunity to visit the Unity Temple I can definitely see why people say it's one of Wright's most well known and striking buildings. Have you ever visited the Unity Temple?

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