November 29, 2005

Robie House exterior restoration completed

The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust held a press conference last Tuesday to celebrate the completion of the exterior restoration of the Robie House. Journalists packed into the second floor living room as guests, including Illinois state representative Barbara Flynn Currie, fifth ward alderman Leslie Hairston, and Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul spoke about the success of the restoration effort. To date, the effort has raised $4 million from private donors and government sources.

The conference also marked the beginning of interior restoration. Expected to cost an additional $4 million, interior restoration will include recreating original colors and paint finishes, conserving the house’s art glass windows, and acquiring missing furniture and other miscellaneous interior items, such as paintings, lamps, and table linens. Future restoration will also require authentic period pieces such as a stove and an icebox.

Originally built for Frederick C. Robie, the house was completed in 1910. A private residence until 1926, it was then converted into a dormitory for the Chicago Theological Seminary. It served in this capacity until 1957 when it was threatened with demolition. Wright, 90 at the time, toured the house in an attempt to stop the demolition, and in 1963 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Though protected from demolition, the Robie House suffered from neglect and decay in the decades following this designation. In 2002, the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust began exterior restoration, which has continued until today.