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Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture: The Edwin H. Cheney House, 1903


Edwin Henry Cheney was a local Chicago-area electrical engineer. He and his wife, Martha (Mamah) Cheney; would commission a home to be build for themselves and their children in the Oak Park neighborhood. The Oak Park neighborhood in the Chicago, Illinois area is chock-full of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, including his own home and studio on nearby Chicago Avenue. The Edwin H. Cheney home itself is a neighbor to the Rollin Furbeck home, located one street over.


Early Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture: The Edwin H. Cheney House in Oak Park, Illinois

The Edwin H. Cheney house, though not as famous as some of Wright’s other works, still has an incredibly famous past in relation to Wright’s life. It would be the Cheney commission that would lead to the affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney.

The two would eventually elope together in 1909, with Wright abandoning his career in America because of the scandal. Mamah Cheney and Wright would return to America and build a home in Wisconsin (the famous Wright home known as Taliesin.) Unfortunately, there life together would be short-lived as Mamah Cheney (and two of her children who were visiting at the time) would be murdered by a worker often referred to as the “insane” servant.

The house itself blends well into the surrounding landscaping, especially since Wright had the home built only partially above the ground rather than having the entire first floor built at ground level. Inside the single story brick structure, there is a living room, dining room, library and bedrooms as well as a large in-law suite in the basement.

The interior of the Cheney home, though appearing small from the exterior, is surprisingly airy and open. Beneath the single hipped roof and expected overhanging eaves, the home features vaulted ceilings and wooden beams. The art glass windows found throughout the home allow for plenty of natural light.

The Edwin H. Cheney House Today

The Edwin H. Cheney home is currently owned by local-area attorney, Dale Smirl. Mr. Smirl resides in the upper level of the home, but does run a bed and breakfast out of the lower level basement of the home, giving guests the opportunity to view one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs from the inside. Those who wish to stay at the Cheney home bed and breakfast should get in contact with the owner for rates and availability.