I join with thousands of Oak Parkers, I would hope, in judging the transfer of the materials of Frank Lloyd Wright to New York an event of incalculable import to Oak Park, our spirit, our identity, and our history [Wright archives head to New York, Inside Report, Sept. 12]. Unlike Ernest Hemingway, who rejected Oak Park for not only other parts of America but other countries, Wright lived and worked here, and physically influenced Oak Park by his architectural works and those of his followers.
In 2007, I proposed, with others in the community, a Performing Arts and Cultural Center in the context of a retail/restaurant park at South Boulevard and Harlem, the fourth reincarnation of this concept. As part of it, we proposed a library and conference center to house all of Hemingway’s and Wright’s materials in one central location. No one else, to my knowledge, had or has ever suggested such a central depository in Oak Park for the works of these giants.
This would have been a natural draw for scholarly research and year-round conferences and would have drawn many thousands to Oak Park. These visitors would not simply have taken the el to Oak Park for a tour; they would have slept, dined, and shopped here. It would certainly have stimulated commerce along Lake Street. Perhaps such a center would have provided an additional stimulus for the desired hotel.
Instead, the village opted for a condo developer. The developer changed his mind. The parcel remains empty. Our PAACC, five years later, would have been thriving by now. More to the point, the material that is now headed to New York would have been located in Oak Park, where it, by any rational argument, belongs for all time.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust clarified that the Wright archive acquired by MOMA and Columbia University belonged to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale AZ.