Oak Park group secures ownership of Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio

Local group's dream achieved after 37 years


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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

Ownership of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio in Oak Park has passed into the hands of a group with roots as local as the home itself.

Jim Schiefelbein, chairman of the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust board of directors, announced Monday that the group secured full property ownership from the Washington D.C.-based National Trust for Historic Preservation — the organization that helped a dedicated group of Oak Park activists preserve and restore the building in the 1970s as part of a first-of-its-kind co-stewardship agreement.

"What it means for us is that anchorship of ownership," Schiefelbein said. "It really positions the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust to secure and achieve our strategic vision and fundraiser goals as we continue to preserve Wright's vision."

From July 2011 to May 2012, the group conducted a quiet capital campaign among Oak Park-area residents to gather the final $130,000 needed to finalize the purchase. Schiefelbein said about 15 contributions from both individuals and couples helped secure that amount.

"We really wanted it to be a local effort," he said. "It puts us in control of our own destiny. It gives us a heightened sense of responsibility."

Under the initial agreement, Schiefelbein said, the Wright Preservation Trust was required to come up with half of the purchase price, interest, fees and funds for emergency repairs on the property. The Preservation Trust then needed to raise the balance to make the purchase. A long-term, low-cost lease on the property left the formal title in the National Trust's hands until Friday, May 4, when the documents were transferred to the Wright Preservation Trust.

"It's a proud moment for the Oak Park community as a whole," Schiefelbein said. This includes the countless volunteers, the "heart and soul" of the organization, he said, who have given their unwavering support and time in maintaining the preservation of the Home & Studio and helping lead the organization into a new era.

"It was the fulfillment of a dream," said Schiefelbein, who hopes their dedication inspires people in terms of what can be achieved when a community unites around a historic cause.

The charge officially began in 1975 when the group approached the National Trust about a partnership, and Schiefelbein said that organization has been an invaluable supporter ever since.

"We share their deep commitment to this important cause and fully expect that we will be allies in this arena as our relationship remains close," he said. "We will ally with them under a new framework."

Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

Reader Comments

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Q from Oak Park  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 12:57 PM

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal, Almost, how must did it cost?

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 12:44 PM

Had a question raised about the clarity of our copy. To be clear, the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust,the locally based organization that grew out of the old FLW Home & Studio Foundation, is the entity now taking full ownership of the property. Money was raised from a number of local philanthropists to make this possible. But the ownership is with the Preservation Trust. Everybody clear?

Gloria Garofalo from Oak Park  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 11:52 AM

FYI: The Home & Studio was the first co-stewardship of the National Trust with an agreement that the FLWH&S could opt out of the agreement if the board deemed appropriate. Obviously, it was felt that this was the time to do so.In the early years the affiliation with the National Trust was a benefit for our local historical site. We set a very high standard for restoration & was used by the National Trust as an example to other historical sites around the country. A great impact for Oak Park.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: May 9th, 2012 7:34 AM

I stand by my post. Thats why I post my name.This is a bit to much for a statement so small. I want no part of this.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: May 8th, 2012 10:51 PM

Irishman, you must be drinking whiskey, because you whiskey muscles are taking part of Brian's name and making a lame effort at making fun of it. I know you would never face Brian and tell him in person.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: May 8th, 2012 10:49 PM

Irishman, you must stop your drinking because you don't have anything worth while to add such as, how much did the home cost to purchase. Someone or group owns the home.


Posted: May 8th, 2012 9:25 PM

Q and Brian: please try again, very, very slowly, to read James' explanation of what happened. Brian, you sure qualify for the "Slow" part of your name, and Q, what does the "Q" stand for, "Quit"?, because that's what you should do.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: May 8th, 2012 1:03 PM

To James from Oak Park:"You (I)crack me up" What am I, a funny guy.Do I make you laugh?Am I here to amuuuse you? What am I, a clown. James thanks for playing.You made my day.I love living in Oak Park,the food is good, but the floor show with jugglers,clowns,mimes, magicians liars and thieves is excellent. I owe you one.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: May 8th, 2012 11:37 AM

James, what was the initial purchase price of the home?

Bran Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: May 8th, 2012 11:10 AM

James: I could care less. Someone finalized a payment of $130,000 to obtain a title to a property that wasnt sold but the title was held as a low cost mortgage company to purchase the home and studio until FLWPT paid them full purchase price. FLWPT competed the payments on a house that wasnt sold so the title is transferred to FLWPT. It is not a sale. Okay. Did someone pay the transfer stamps.I understand the process was closed to the public.I still think it was a sale

James from Oak Park  

Posted: May 8th, 2012 8:22 AM

Brian and Q you crack me up. The property was not sold. The National Trust was acting as a low cost mortgage company for the purchase of the home and studio and holding the title until FLWPT paid them the full purchase price. FLWPT has completed the payments to the NTHP so the title is transferring to FLWPT.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: May 7th, 2012 9:01 PM

Hello Brian, just was about to post the same to the Irishman. People can't comprehend very well what they read and people like to say how Oak Park is full of well read people. Brian, I was thinking the same thing that if this was a piece of property up for sale, then it should have been open to the public. This may have been a terrific by for the people who had inside information.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: May 7th, 2012 8:34 PM

To Irishman: you must have reading comprehension problems. "final $130,000 to finalize purchase. No mention of total cost. For $130,000, I would have bought the building. Maybe we should check the property transfers.


Posted: May 7th, 2012 8:17 PM

Q from OP: you must have reading comprehension problems. Read the fourth paragraph.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: May 7th, 2012 11:57 AM

How much did it cost?

Scott from Oak Park  

Posted: May 7th, 2012 11:28 AM

Good to hear, I hope that they fix up the concrete fence that surrounds it.

Dan from Oak Park  

Posted: May 7th, 2012 11:01 AM

I love the Home and Studio, and I love to show it off to out-of-town guests. However, it has gotten a bit too pricey. I cannot afford to go multiple times, and I am reluctant to send guests their unless I know they are fans. As a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the membership previously had covered the entrance fee, but as of last year, that was no longer the case. (I miss those days). Last y I got a small discount - not enough to allow me to go along regularly as a host.

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