“Early in life, I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical
humility. I chose the former and have seen no occasion to change.” — FLW
Frank Lloyd Wright was born on June 8, 1867 in Richland Center, Wisconsin. He spent a few semesters in the Engineering School at the University of Wisconsin before leaving for Chicago in 1887. At the age of twenty, he was hired as an apprentice in the office of J. Lyman Silsbee. Silsbee had designed All Souls’ Unitarian Church where Wright’s uncle was minister. The young architect’s first work was nominally a Silsbee commission — the Hillside Home School built for his aunts in 1888 near Spring Green, Wisconsin.
While construction was underway on the Hillside Home School, Wright went to work for the Chicago firm of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. He worked as a draftsman on the Auditorium Building, which, at the time of completion in 1890, was the largest building in Chicago. He remained with that firm until 1893, absorbing Sullivan’s influence and designing several houses. Among his designs was one he designed for himself in Oak Park, Illinois that was constructed with Sullivan’s financial assistance.
“Moonlighting” on his own commissions led to a break with Sullivan in 1893, and Wright set up a separate practice. His first commissions were primarily for the design of private homes in the more affluent suburbs of Chicago. These include the W. H. Winslow house of 1893-94 in River Forest, Illinois — considered by Wright to be his “first.” Unfortunately, many of the buildings he designed around the turn of the century have not survived.
Links to Photographs and Other Materials
Auditorium Building. Discussion and photographs.
Hillside Home School I. Photographs.
Wright Home & Studio (1889), Oak Park, Illinois. Official site of Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, photographs and discussion.
Wright Home and Studio. Color photographs.
Charnley-Persky House. National Historic Landmark. Site provides photographs, history, and other resources.
Thomas H. Gale House (1892), Oak Park, Illinois. Color photograph.
Gale House. Color photograph. Panoramio site.
Robert P. Parker House (1892), Oak Park, Illinois. Color photographs and brief discussion.
Walter Gale House (1893), Oak Park, Illinois. Color photograph.
Francis Woolley House (1893), Oak Park, Illinois. B/W photograph.
William H. Winslow House (1893), River Forest, Illinois. Part of the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust site. Black and white photo with discussion.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Winslow House and the Ideal Suburban Model. Article with photographs; Aaron Betsky visits Wright’s 1893 residence for William Winslow and family and finds in it an unsustainable model for the ultimate suburban home.
Winslow House. Color photographs.
Winslow House. Realtor’s page with color photographs of exterior and interior.
Early Years 1
Francisco Terrace Apartments, Archway (1895), Chicago Illinois. Apartments demolished (1974), Color photographs.
Chauncey Williams House (1895), River Forest, Illinois. Color photograph.
Williams House. Color photographs of exterior.
Nathan Moore House (1895), Oak Park, Illinois. B/W photographs of orignial house destroyed by fire in 1922.
Romeo and Juliet Windmill (1896), Spring Green, Wisconsin. Color photographs (part of Taliesin site).
Romeo and Juliet Windmill. Color photographs.
Harry Goodrich House (1896), Oak Park, Illinois. Color photographs of exterior.
George Furbeck House (1897), Oak Park, Illinois. Color photograph and discussion.
Rollin Furbeck House (1897), Oak Park, Illinois. Color photographs of exterior.
River Forest Golf Club (1898-1901), River Forest, Illinois . (demolished) Drawing.
Joseph Husser House (1899), Chicago, Illinois. B/W photograph.
Frank Lloyd Wright in Oak Park, Illinois (1889-1909) features a "walking" photo tour and discussion of the residences built in Oak Park, including the Wright Home & Studio. Site also contains a biography that focuses on Wright’s flamboyant personal life.