Oak Park-born architect John S. Van Bergen has a strong connection to Oak Park’s iconic architecture. His childhood home was within striking distance of Wright’s Furbeck and Fricke houses. His mother was friends with Wright’s mother, and his third-grade teacher was Wright’s sister. While pursuing his architectural license at Chicago Technical College, he worked with local architect E.E. Roberts and in 1909 became a draftsman for Wright. He also worked for area architect William Drummond before founding his own firm.

Van Bergen practiced in Oak Park until 1919, and one his most interesting commissions was the Linden Apartments, completed in 1916 at the intersection of Linden and Ontario. Believed to be one of only two high-style Prairie apartment buildings in existence, the structure was commissioned by Salem E. Munyer and built at a cost of $54,000. The units, now converted to condominiums, retain their signature Prairie-style elements: horizontal joints and limestone banding on the exterior and built-in cabinets, sconce lighting, fireplaces and art glass in the interiors.

Residents of the building, including Frank Lloyd Wright Trust researcher Brian De Vinck, have created a website to prepare for the 100th anniversary of the building, and they encourage former residents, Van Bergen enthusiasts and those with connections to the building to visit: www.lindenlandmark.org to join in the celebration.

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