What does your business do & what sets you apart from others in your industry?
UTRF’s mission is to restore and preserve Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple, and educate audiences about Wright’s important architectural influence. Unity Temple, along with seven other Frank Lloyd Wright sites in the U.S. including the Guggenheim Museum and Fallingwater, is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are only 24 in the entire country and this designation is internationally considered the highest honor for a cultural site.
What is “super” about your business? Why is it special?
Unity Temple is more than a place for worship: it is a museum that attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world; it is a venue for cultural and educational programming; it is a source of inspiration for artists, architects, and students; and it is an icon of modern architecture. UTRF also provides a great resource for local musicians, dancers, educators and architects as a place to perform or lecture as part of one of UTRF’s programs. In 2017, UTRF completed a 3-year, $25 million restoration to bring Unity Temple back to its original splendor; UTRF’s priority now is to preserve the building in this condition for generations to come.
If you could pick a superpower, what would it be?
To read the minds of donors!
What is one thing you have had to do to “pivot” to survive the Covid shutdown?
Like many presenting organizations, UTRF has transitioned some of its programming to a virtual platform, including the Unity Chamber Music Series, dance classes, and fundraisers. UTRF is planning on hosting a virtual art exhibit series featuring local artists of multiple disciplines as well as a Vintage Home Show in 2021. UTRF’s executive director, Heidi Ruehle, partnered with the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (Chicago) and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation (Scottsdale) to present “Wright Virtual Visits” as a result of sites needing to temporarily close due to COVID-19. This social media effort, currently in phase 2, pairs sites together for a live side-by-side virtual tours on Facebook and has received international attention with well over 50 articles written in support.
Name one thing you LOVE about our Chamber?
Like Oak Park itself, the Chamber has a small town feel and (to quote “Cheers”) has a “where everybody knows your name” vibe. Still, the high level of professionalism and the diverse range of businesses and organizations maintain the Chamber’s reputation for excellence in B2B services.
What’s the weirdest thing you sell or offer? Or have there been any odd customer requests?
Behind-the-scenes private tours with a special focus on the HVAC system located in the basement – everyone wants to see the basement!
Name three of your favorite local businesses (besides yourself, of course!)
Al’s Grill, Heitzman Architects, The UPS Store (Lake St)
Visit Heidi Ruehle at Unity Temple Restoration Foundation
875 Lake St., Oak Park, IL 60301
Small Business Super Heroes is a partnership between the Oak Park – River Forest Chamber of Commerce and Wednesday Journal’s oakpark.com.
This Super Hero profile was created on 10/9/20