River Forest’s most significant piece of architectural history and the first breakthrough in Prairie-style design by Frank Lloyd Wright has been sold.

The Winslow home and stable, at 515 Auvergne Place, which had been on and off the market for nearly three years, sold in December to buyers from out of town, said Pamela Tilton, the agent with Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty, the agent for the house.

The Cook County Recorder of Deeds has not recorded the sale yet, but the property reportedly sold for $1,375,000 on Dec. 16, 2016, according to online listing information. That’s more than $1 million less than the original asking price of $2.4 million in December 2013.

The current and future owners would not comment, Tilton added. Efforts by Wednesday Journal to reach out to the current owners were unsuccessful.

There is no indication what the new owner intends to do with the home, but members of the River Forest Historic Preservation Commission will try to start a dialogue as soon as they can to find out what that intent might be, Tom Zurowski, the commission’s chairman, said.

Commission member Dave Franek said the Winslow House is to River Forest what the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio is to Oak Park.

“It would be hard to imagine someone would buy such an iconic structure and then demolish it. It may require some level of investment, but it’s certainly one of Wright’s five or 10 well-known commissions anywhere,” Franek said.

Designed in 1893 and built in 1894, the 5,036-square-foot, four-bedroom house was considered Wright’s first major commission as an independent architect. Building on Wright’s experiences working for Chicago architect Louis Sullivan, and closely related to his experiments with the design of his own home in Oak Park, the house marked a decisive step forward in Wright’s career, said David Bagnall, curator and director of interpretation for the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.

“He always considered the Winslow house extremely important to his career,” Bagnall said. “Looking back on it in 1936, he described it as ‘the first Prairie house.'”

Because of its significance, the home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. 

There have few owners of the house. The most recent were the late Bill and June Walker, who bought it in 1958, according to a 2013 Wednesday Journal article when the home was put on the market by their son, Paul.

But when the Vilas House came down in 2009 and then Mars Mansion in 2015, River Forest’s preservationists expressed concerns that the village’s toothless protections for historic homes would result in River Forest becoming another Hinsdale, where demolishing historic homes and building new one in their place had been commonplace. One of the homes they feared would be razed was the Winslow House.

With uncertainty about the new owner’s intent, Zurowski said, “it is in our interest to get ahead of the game and be proactive. We will send them a letter to welcome them and inform them the [Historic Preservation Commission] is here as a resource.”

Franek added he was “glad it has a new owner. I hope they continue the Walkers’ tradition of stewardship.”

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