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Robie House gets restoration gift

link to: Chicago JournalThe Robie house restoration project got a big boost this October in the form of $1 million from the Pritzker Family Foundation--and a pep talk from First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Officials from the University, the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Foundation, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation joined U of C Trustee Thomas Jay Pritzker, JD'76, MBA'76, president of the Hyatt Corporation, in announcing the gift. Lovers of great architecture, his parents founded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, a prestigious annual award given by the Hyatt Foundation to a living architect "whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision, and commitment."

image: Hillary Rodham Clinton in front of the Robie House (photo by Jason Smith)The entire Robie House restoration project should cost about $7 million, said Joan Mercuri, executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Foundation, which oversees the house for the University. The first phase of renovation will include restoring the clay tile roof, conserving the copper gutter system, and tuckpointing 95 percent of the building. The building will remain open for public tours.

Robie House, along with two other Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, Taliesin and Fallingwater, is part of the Save America's Treasures program, a public-private partnership between the White House Millennium Council and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

As honorary chair of the Millennium Committee to Save America's Treasures, Clinton came to Chicago to tour Robie House and two other cultural landmarks included in the program, Chess Records and the Pullman neighborhood. While at Robie House, Clinton spoke on the importance of preservation.

"If we lose [these buildings], we lose our history and our national memory," she said. "Robie House embodies an American spirit familiar to all of us."

Clinton also took time to praise the Pritzkers, saying, "I believe that the Pritzker family in itself is a treasure, not only in Chicago but in America." --K.S.

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  DECEMBER 1999

  > > Volume 92, Number 2


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