Wright Trust extends reach east on Chicago Avenue

Officials mum on future plans for newly acquired 1888 home

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By Lacey Sikora

Contributing Reporter

The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust extended its reach east of the renowned architect's Home and Studio, acquiring the single-family home at 925 Chicago Ave. on Dec. 6, 2017.

The purchase expands the Trust's holdings on Chicago Avenue in Oak Park to three: the Home and Studio, purchased in 1974; 931 Chicago Ave., purchased in 1989 and currently used for staff offices; and 925 Chicago Ave., immediately to the east of 931 Chicago Ave.

The Trust paid $340,000 for the property and, according to the Cook County Assessor, the property has a market value of $598,420. 

In an email exchange, Frank Lloyd Wright Trust President and CEO Celeste Adams declined to comment on whether or not the seller of the home received any sort of charitable consideration for selling the home below market value, but she did affirm that the Trust had been aware for two years prior to the sale that the property would become available.

"This acquisition was a long-term decision by the Board of Directors. The Trust has no immediate finite plan for the property," Adams stated in the email. "The planning process will include full consideration of the history of the property, its relationship to the Home and Studio property and its potential uses in future years to serve the mission of the Trust and benefit the community. The Trust will share plans with the community as they evolve over time."

The Italianate style home was constructed in 1888, one year prior to Wright's construction of his own home at 951 Chicago Ave. Adams indicated that the Trust has some historical information on the home and would continue to research the history of the home. When asked if the Trust planned to keep the house intact, she referred to her email statement. 

The home at 925 Chicago Ave. is part of Oak Park's Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie School of Architecture Historic District, and thus is awarded all of the protections available under local statutes. Due to the age of the home, it likely would be considered a contributing resource to the historic district under the language of Oak Park's guidelines:

"In a historic district, most buildings contribute to the significance of the area without individually having the credentials of a landmark. These buildings are referred to as 'contributing resources.' They help to maintain the historic integrity of the neighborhood."

As a contributing resource, any proposal to demolish or partially demolish 925 Chicago Ave. would require a certificate of appropriateness from the village's Historic Preservation Commission.

Robie House restoration update

Wright's landmark Frederick C. Robie House at 5757 S. Woodlawn Ave. in Chicago is undergoing a 14-month interior restoration by the Trust. Approximately 40,000 visitors tour the home each year, and public tours will continue during the restoration. 

Visitors will be able to observe the restoration work in progress and learn about the methods used to restore an architecturally significant landmark.

 Karen Sweeney, preservation architect and the Trust's facilities director, is the project manager. Harboe Architects, who spearheaded the recent Unity Temple restoration project, is working with general contractor Bulley & Andrews on work that includes plater and coloration of walls and ceilings, woodwork, floor treatments, light fixtures and restoration of selected leaded glass windows and doors. 

Rooms being restored include the main entry and stairway, billiards room, children's playroom, living room, dining room and guest room. 

Wright in the Region

As the Trust gears up for the Wright Plus Housewalk on May 19, tickets are selling fast for Wright in the Region on Monday, May 21. The all-day trip, titled Wright's Pride of the Prairie, departs from the Rookery Building at 209 S. LaSalle St. in Chicago at 7 a.m. and returns at 8 p.m. Visitors will travel to Springfield and Decatur to tour two Wright masterpieces.

One of his most opulent residences, the Dana-Thomas House in Springfield is a museum owned by the Illinois State Historic Preservation Agency. 

Designed by Wright in 1902 for Susan Lawrence Dana, the house is the 72nd building designed by Wright and contains the largest collection of site-specific, original Wright art glass and furniture. The home's 35 rooms span over 12,000 square feet and include 16 varying levels.

The Edward P. Irving House in Decatur is the private home of owners who discovered the house on www.savingwright.org in 2013. Designed by Wright in 1909, the Prairie Style home was completed by Wright's assistants Herman Von Holst and Marion Mahony. 

The two-story brick home features six bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms and maids' quarters. Points of interest include a built-in grandfather clock in the entrance, a built-in oak sideboard in the dining room with leaded glass panels, and glass steps leading to the attic.

More information on the Robie House restoration and Wright in the Region can be found at www.flwright.org

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