Alphawood Foundation Chicago and the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation (the “Congregation”) announced today that they have entered into a preliminary agreement that provides a framework for the eventual complete restoration and preservation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois. This agreement contemplates a joint campaign by Alphawood, the Congregation, Unity Temple Restoration Foundation, and other interested preservationists to raise the funds necessary to complete a comprehensive restoration of Wright’s internationally-recognized masterpiece. As part of this agreement, Alphawood has pledged $10 million toward the cost of the effort, subject to successful efforts to raise the balance of the necessary funds.
Unity Temple, completed in 1908, is Frank Lloyd Wright’s first public building and the oldest still put to its original use by its owners. Unity Temple is generally recognized as one of Wright’s foremost works, and is internationally known as one of the early buildings of the Modern movement. Wright himself referred to the design of Unity Temple as “my contribution to modern architecture.” The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971 and is universally considered to be one of the most important buildings of the 20th Century.
In 2009, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed Unity Temple on its list of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places noting that, while the building has generally been well maintained, water infiltration has caused extensive damage to the concrete structure and interior finishes over the years. The National Trust stated that “the building urgently requires a multi-million-dollar rescue effort.”
“The Alphawood Foundation is committed to supporting efforts that preserve and protect the Chicago area’s architectural legacy. We are delighted that our gift will be an important first step toward the restoration and preservation of this international landmark. We are especially pleased that this project will permit the Congregation to continue to use the building for its intended purpose while ensuring that visitors from around the world can experience Wright’s masterpiece” said Jim McDonough, Executive Director of the Alphawood Foundation.
Ian Morrison, President of the Congregation’s Board of Trustees, said “Our Congregation is immensely excited to move forward with the restoration of Unity Temple in collaboration with the Alphawood Foundation. For over 100 years we have made this wonderful building our spiritual home, gathering for worship, major life events, and community activities. Wright designed the building for us and it embodies many of our values. We are proud to continue using it for its intended purposes.”
Finally, Emily Roth, Executive Director of the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation, said “Alphawood’s gift will have an immensely important impact on the future of Unity Temple. The UTRF Board of Directors is grateful to Alphawood Foundation for magnifying its enthusiastic support and entering into this agreement.”
ABOUT ALPHAWOOD FOUNDATION
Alphawood Foundation is a Chicago-based grant making private foundation working for an equitable, just and humane society. It awards grants to more than 200 organizations annually, primarily in the areas of advocacy, architecture and preservation, arts, domestic violence prevention, the environment, promotion and protection of the rights of LGBT citizens and people living with HIV/AIDS, and other human and civil rights.
ABOUT UNITY TEMPLE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CONGREGATION
Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation is a vibrant, progressive religious community, committed to transforming lives, deepening faith and understanding, and challenging one another to live out our shared values. Founded in 1871, UTUUC serves this region through outstanding worship and music, religious education for children and adults, a broad range of small groups, and opportunities for service.
ABOUT UNITY TEMPLE RESTORATION FOUUNDATION
Unity Temple Restoration Foundation (UTRF) restores and preserves Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1908 masterpiece of modern architecture, Unity Temple. UTRF also advances Unity Temple’s global and contemporary significance with programming that embodies Wright’s spirit of innovation and enriches the lives of those it serves.