NATO spouses slip in to tour Wright studio
Spouses of NATO summit attendees visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park on Sunday morning. | Matt Soria~Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:39AM
While First Lady Michelle Obama was hosting dignitaries at a South Side youth center Sunday, another group of out-of-town NATO guests were visiting an Oak Park landmark.
About 40 spouses of NATO officials toured the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio on the 900 block of Chicago Avenue on Sunday. They stayed for two hours, viewing the master architect’s original home and workplace and enjoying a brief walk through the neighborhood immediately adjacent to the studio.
“They were mostly ambassador’s spouses and a few foreign minister’s spouses,” said Laura Dodd, director of guest experience and program operations for the Wright Preservation Trust, who oversaw the visit.
The idea for the tour came from the wife of U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder, Elisa D. Harris, whom Dodd called “a huge Frank Lloyd Wright fan.”
“She had a great time,” said Dodd.
Dodd said the State Department contacted the Wright trust “almost as soon as the NATO summit was announced” months ago. Security officials visited the site last month to prepare for the visit.
People in the neighborhood wouldn’t have noticed much difference between the visiting NATO attendees and the usual studio visitors on Sunday, except for when Oak Park police closed Chicago Avenue briefly to allow the tour buses to arrive and leave together.
Cmdr. Ladon Reynolds said Oak Park and Chicago police were on scene between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. to keeping an eye on the neighborhood outside the studio.
“We were monitoring the area. The primary security responsibility was with the (State Department’s) dignitary protection division,” Reynolds said.
“They only disrupted traffic for a few minutes,” said Dodd. “Otherwise it was pretty low-key.”