OPA Blog

Frank Lloyd Wright – Celebrating 150

Frank Lloyd Wright is turning 150 years old on June 8th and Oak Park, home to the world’s largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings, is looking to celebrate!
Wright, though born and bred in Wisconsin, not only made Oak Park his home but is where he established his architectural firm and where his work set in motion a major shift in architectural style that still strongly resonates today.
The broad, sweeping Midwest landscape became the driving influence for Wrights’ very distinctive designs. Marked by horizontal lines, flat or hipped roofs, wide eaves, lengths of banded windows, quality craftsmanship and simple interior decor. The Prairie school design elements of the early 20th century are incorporated into many of today’s current architectural projects, their qualities are timeless and modern over 100 years later.
The fact that FLW’s designs have endured the test of time and still remain the pinnacle of architectural excellence would surely be one of the best gifts that Frank could receive for his birthday, but we would suspect that FLW would even hope (expect, maybe?) that his architectural significance would continue to live on for at least another 150 more.
So take a moment to appreciate Wright’s local Oak Park masterpieces, wish him well on this his 150th milestone and support the preservation of Frank’s achievements for many more years to come.


Farmers Market Donuts

Oak Park’s 42nd annual Farmer’s Market starts this Saturday.
Yes, Oak Park Apartments loves the locally grown fruits and veggies, the specialty cheeses, the wide assortment of jams and honey, the beautiful fresh cut flowers and perennials that can be planted in your own backyard… but the # 1 reason, in our humble opinion, to go to the Farmer’s Market is for a freshly made, melt in your mouth donuts!
Cinnamon, powdered sugar or plain.  Each holds its own appeal.  These donuts are made fresh at Pilgrim Church in the wee morning hours.  You can purchase one or a dozen but get there early because they sell out fast.
A good strategy to employ in order to make sure you are not shut out of a delectable donut is to head to the back corner of the church next to the kiddie playground. The line can be long, sometimes circling the entire width of the church, but the wait is worth it.  Buy a few.  Or a dozen. Then, with donut and coffee in hand you can meander the market and make some other delicious and healthy purchases.
The added bonus is that various local non-profit organizations make the donuts week to week, earning money for Pilgrim Church as well as their organizations so, not only are you enjoying the best donut around but you are being philanthropic as well!

Oak Park’s Sculpture Walk Comes to Harrison Street

The Oak Park Area Arts Council (OPAAC) is at it again. Bringing art to the people of Oak Park and beyond.
Returning for its’ sixth season is the Oak Park Sculpture Walk and what better place to locate this years’ works of art but on Harrison Street, the heart of Oak Park’s Arts District.  The sculptures are presently being installed between Austin Boulevard and Ridgeland Avenue – so nine blocks of artistic vibe to help support and showcase this years twelve new sculptures.
All the installations are scheduled to be completed by May 12th, right in time for the annual “What’s Blooming on Harrison” street festival, happening on May 20th. The festival features an art fair, loads of family fun, including a kids carnival, musicians, dancers, art demonstrations, not to mention food, drinks and now 12 amazing sculptural works of art to appreciate, analyze, discuss and enjoy!
This year technology also comes into play with the sculptures.  You can download your mobile audio guide app through Otocast (app available after the opening on May 19th) and get artistic insights right on your phone.



Oak Park Apartments – Vintage Craftsmanship

Oak Park 
Apartments loves its’ vintage courtyard apartments because these buildings have character, both inside and out, that can not be found in new construction. 

Built between the early 1900’s through the 1920’s, these properties hearken back to a day and time when craftsmanship was about the details.  From crown molding, built-in bookcases and decorative fireplaces on an apartments interior to the exteriors impressive stonework, stained glass and grand entryways, each building was distinctive.  

Appreciating the quality and craftsmanship of these historic buildings, Oak Park Apartments has made restoration of these properties a priority.  Getting rid of questionable design choices that happened over the decades, updating utilities while adding in the necessary 21st century upgrades has always been the goal. 

One Lightbulb Can Make An Eco – Difference


Earth Day 2017 has just passed and as a tenant of a rental property you may ask yourself, “What can I possibly do to be eco-conscious in my apartment?
Oak Park Aparments has one very easy green fix to help you reduce your carbon footprint.
Switch out your standard incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent (CFL – the curly bulbs) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. This simple switch can dramatically reduce how much energy you use. The technology behind the CFL and LED light bulbs has greatly increased energy efficiency, will lessen your carbon footprint and will decrease your electic bill to boot.
But how do you know what type of bulb to purchase?
Here’s just a little bulb knowledge to help shed some light on the subject….
The standard incandescent bulb not only produces light but it also gives off heat.  It is the heat emitted from the incandescent bulb that “eats up” electrical energy.
CFL bulbs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), use 75% less energy, produce 75% less heat and last up to 10 x’s longer  than an average incandescent bulb.  These bulbs are readily available at most stores for around $4 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by hundreds of pounds. The major con to CFL bulbs is that they contain mercury, which can be harmful to both humans and the environment if not handled properly.
LED bulbs last up to 50,000 hours (amazing!) – 8x’s longer then even the CFL bulbs. They contain no hazardous materials so they can either be thrown out or recycled, last around 15 years and stop over a half ton of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the environment.  The major drawback to LED’s is that the initial cost can range in price from around $7 up through $50+ for a bulb (but remember to factor in over a 15 year life span you’d be saving $$ long term as well as being Earth friendly.).
So by simply replacing a light bulb or two every month you can make the world a “brighter” place (and greener, too!)
Just as an FYI: Home Depot and Lowes offer recycling sites for CFL bulbs.

Removable Designs For Your Apartment

Today design shows are everywhere.  Color is in.  But if you are a renter your walls are generally beige. (Okay, Oak Park Apartments is liking grey paint these days so we’re a little more design trendy.)
Painting yourself is a lot of time, effort and money. Plus, painting may not even be allowed and, generally, if it is you must agree to re-paint your place the apartment management approved color before you move.  So more time, effort and money.
So what options does a tenant have when you have a flair for design or just want to personalize your place a bit?
A couple of easy options to help put some style into your place are wall decals or removable wall paper.
Both are simple to install, relatively inexpensive depending on your personal preference and can be removed and taken with you when you move.



There’s More to Oak Park Architecture than Just Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright has put Oak Park on the architectural map, making our village a destination for those who love both architecture and history.
FLW may be the most famous of Oak Park craftsmen but there are other notable architects that have left their mark on homes, churches and yes, apartments, throughout Oak Park that are worth a look.
Tallmadge & Watson, George Washington Maher and E.E. Roberts are all noteworthy designers whose architectural impact justifies some attention.
Tallmadge & Watson – Widely know for over thirty churches designed during their partnership, the architectural duo of Thomas Eddy Tallmadge and Vernon S. Watson also put their mark on many numerous private homes.
First United Methodist Church of Oak Park is one such example of a Tallmadge and Watson ecclesiastical project.


George W. Maher – The John Farson house or Pleasant Home, built in 1847, is an Oak Park landmark and masterpiece designed by Maher.  Known for both prairie and arts and crafts styles of architecture, Maher’s other notable Oak Park designs include Unity Church of Oak Park as well as many stately residences.


E.E. Roberts –  Roberts established his architectural practice in Oak Park, designing well over 200 homes and apartments. His practice grew to be the largest in Oak Park, even larger then the famed Frank Lloyd Wright. Though his architectural styles varied, Roberts largely favored the Prairie Style and its’ horizontal lines.
Oak Park Apartments very own Park Manor Apartments at 173 – 186 North Grove Avenue is a unique E.E. Roberts design featuring whimsical gargoyles on a beautiful Tudor-revival building.


People & Pets – Occupancy Rules Apply


Both the Village of Oak Park and Oak Park Apartments have specific occupancy rules that regulate how many people can legally live in studio, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments.

Oak Park Apartments occupancy rules include:

  • Only the individuals listed on your lease may live in your apartment.
  • Only members of your household, as identified on your lease, may use your apartment.
  • If you need to add or remove someone from your lease at any point during the term of your lease please notify Oak Park Apartments Leasing Department.  This change may necessitate a need to re-apply and re-qualify as a tenant.
  • You may have a guest stay with you in your apartment for a maximum of 21 days. Any guest remaining in your apartment longer than 21 days is considered an unauthorized occupant, which violates your lease agreement and could be grounds for eviction.

Not only does Oak Park have occupancy rules for people but there are rules that apply to pets as well.  Oak Park allows 1 dog or 2 cats per apartment.  Along with the Villages rules Oak Park Apartments has a few pet-specific requirements as well.
  • Let Oak Park Apartments know if you have a pet or are planning on getting a pet when you sign your lease. If you are already living with us and decide to make a pet purchase, let us know as soon as you have cemented your decision.
  • Certain breed restrictions apply.
  • Chicago buildings do not allow dogs.
  • Pet owners are charged a 1 time $100 fee by Oak Park Apartments.
  • Pet owners must abide by the Village’s animal licensing, pet inoculation, neutering and/or spaying regulations.
The rules put in place by both the Village of Oak Park and Oak Park Apartments are designed to ensure a pleasant living environment for all.

Packing Tips For A Smooth Move

Moving can be stressful.  Whether you are moving into or out of one of Oak Park Apartments apartments we would like to make your move go as smooth as possible.
By following these simple packing tips you can be assured that you are organized and your belongings get to your new place, intact!
  • Don’t pack things you no longer use, need or want.  Sort by category.  All like items together. Then decide how many pairs of scissors, how many pizza cutters, how many sets of towels, how many of anything is necessary. Pare down, sell, donate. Be ruthless.
  • Start early, packing always takes more time then you expect.
  • Purchase plenty of packing supplies.  Especially heavy duty packing tape – you will go through more then you ever imagined.
  • Have an assortment of boxes on hand – all shapes and sizes will be needed.  You can save or find boxes for free on Craigslist.  Invest money in a wardrobe box for all your hanging clothes – truly a lifesaver.
  • In order to protect what is in your boxes have a variety of filler: newspaper – either shredded or full sheets to wrap breakables, towels, sheets, blankets (all free ways of protecting your things), and finally, save/purchase bubble wrap for your highly breakable belongings.
  • Pack away seldom used items and off season clothes first.
  • Pack a few boxes a day so you do not get overwhelmed.
  • Get out your Sharpie and make sure to label your boxes. List what you’ve packed on the outside of the box.
  • Organize your boxes by room – i.e.: bathroom – towels, shower curtain, bath rugs; bedroom – sheets, mattress pad, pillows. This technique will be especially helpful when you are unpacking.
  • Pack heavy items in smaller boxes so they are easy to lift and carry.
  • Take pictures of complicated technological setups like your T.V. – visuals are a helpful reminder.
  • Cover your T.V./mirrors/pictures with a towel or bed sheet.  Wrap and tape in bubble wrap. Finally, wrap and tape with heavy duty card board.
  • Do not seal your boxes until you are close to your moving date – you never know when you might need that winter coat.
  • As you get closer to your move pare down even further and start living on your absolute essentials – a week’s worth of clothes, toiletries, few kitchen necessities, bedding and towels – pack the rest and know you ready for moving day.
  • Number all your boxes.
  • When you start taping boxes shut make sure to reinforce boxes that are heavy with extra tape.
  • Lastly, a good idea is to pack an “Open First” box.  Items that should be included are: important paperwork, medications, toiletries, 1 set of sheets, 1 set of towels, scissors (to help open other boxes), first aid kit, pajamas, & a change of clothes.

Who Started Apartment Living Anyway?








Oak Park is a community rich with history and Oak Park Apartments likes to highlight that history. Pondering our own history made us curious about the history of apartment buildings and that search led us all the way back to ancient Rome.
Yes, we can thank the Romans for the creation of multi-family dwellings.  Back in 1st century BC populations were growing, land was valuable, the workers that were the backbone of village existence had to live close and living had to be affordable. (Some things never change.)
So out of necessity the Romans developed the insula (meaning island, because these buildings took up whole city blocks). Insulas were usually designed around an open courtyard, most were three stories high with shops on the ground level, and were built out of wood with little attention to interior detail. Soon the insula became the most common form of housing in Rome and by the 4th century apartments actually outnumbered private homes by more than twenty-five to one.
Public safety was not a concern until after the Great Fire of Rome. In 64 AD fire burned for days throughout the city. The poor construction of many of the buildings coupled with high winds made it nearly impossible to extinguish the fire. Hundreds died and even more were left homeless.
This devastation led Rome to establish the first building codes. Regulations for the sake of public safety were established regarding such things as using brick as a building material, wall thickness, construction height and a need for multiple ways for tenants to exit the insula. (Once again we see historical parallels.)
So Oak Parkers take look at your own “Oak Park” apartment and see the influence of ancient Rome on today’s modern living. Really not so different.  Well, today’s modern amenities – indoor plumbing, heat, electricity, to name a few – do make us grateful for 21st century living.