In the Studio: Unity Yellow Grey
[Unity Yellow Grey (2012) /Image & Artwork: designslinger studio]
Frank Lloyd Wright was no stranger to the Unitarian Universalist church. His great- great-grandfather Jenkin Jones was the pastor of a Unitarian church in Wales in the middle of the 18th century, his uncle Jenkin Lloyd Jones was the pastor of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Chicago, and his father William Wright was, at one time, a minister in the church and a founder of the First Unitarian Church in Madison, Wisconsin in 1879 when Frank was 12 years old.
[Unity Yellow Grey - yellow block inked /Image & Artwork: designslinger studio]
Uncle Jenkin Lloyd Jones had come to Chicago from the family's valley homestead in Helena, Wisconsin and established his pastorate in Chicago's Oakwood neighborhood. Jones soon became one of the leaders of a group of Chicago-based Unitarians who were exploring a new direction for the church to take, right down to the design and function of the type of edifice members worshiped in.
[Unity Yellow Grey - yellow on paper /Image & Artwork: designslinger studio]
Pastor Jones brought his revolutionary ideas to Chicago architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee in 1883. Lloyd Jones wanted to build his new church - All Souls - in line with his new way of thinking, and Silsbee began working on some sketches. In December 1884 William Wright came to preach in his brother-in-laws parish accompanied by his son Frank, who may have met the architect at that time. Months later Lloyd Jones asked Silsbee if he could design a small chapel to be built in the family's Wisconsin valley, in fulfillment of the wishes of Jenkin's recently deceased father. Uncle Jenkin may have also suggested to Silsbee that he might want to try out the pastor's nephew Frank - an aspiring architect - to see if the young man had what it takes. Not only did Silsbee take Frank Wright under his wing, but as the final designs for Jenkin Lloyd Jones' All Souls Church were being completed, the 19-year-old Wright was given an assignment to make a drawing of the new building. He did, put his name on it, and in 1887 Frank Lloyd Wright was on the roster as a member of All Souls.
[Unity Yellow Grey - grey block inked /Image & Artwork: designslinger studio]
Jump to 1905. The Oak Park, Illinois based Unitarian Universalist congregation's Unity Church, is destroyed in a fire. Frank Lloyd Wright is a member, and is asked by the Rev. Dr. Rodney Johonnot to design house of worship to replace the old 1871-era structure. Johonnot was a vocal supporter, along with Jenkin Lloyd Jones, of a more liberal and open-minded church. Unity Temple became the physical representation of the new ideology. Wright's building was beyond groundbreaking. A poured concrete structure enclosing an interior space that radically altered the traditional way in which a congregation gathers, the building was the culmination of an idea that his uncle had spelled-out 20 years earlier about creating a physical space more intimate and humanizing - and truly making a house of worship a home.
We paid tribute to Unity Temple not once, not twice, but three times. It is an amazing work of art, and one of our favorites.
See one version at: Unity Yellow Grey.