In 1912, noted Oak Park architect E.E. Roberts built a Prairie Style home for the “King of Roses,” E.C. Amling. The house at 708 Forest Ave. was actually built by Henry Schroeder of Oak Park, a builder who is credited with constructing earlier schools where Holmes and Whittier elementary schools now stand.
Schroeder settled on the northeast corner of Augusta Boulevard and Forest Avenue in Oak Park and built the corner house, 704 Forest Ave., for himself along with a barn. He built the second house for his daughter Anna, who married E.C. Amling, a wholesaler of roses. In Oak Park, E.C. Amling was known as the Rose King of Chicago.
E.C.’s brother W.H., owned a florist’s shop in Maywood and brother A.F. grew flowers in the western suburb. Eventually the family business, Amling’s Flowerland, became a mainstay of the West Side for generations. Founded in 1889, the floral company had over 20 Chicago-area locations at its peak.
The business was also known for community involvement, and in the 1950s, Amling’s descendants offered a haunted house during the fall and a life-sized Bethlehem village during the holiday season every year. Facing bankruptcy in 2007, the business was purchased by a third-generation florist who continues to operate locations in Elmhurst and Arlington Heights.
The Amlings’ four-bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house recently hit the market and received multiple offers within days. Laura Maychruk of Gullo & Associates listed the house for $699,000 for the estate of its most recent owner, Oak Park activist Tesse Donnelly.
The house was last updated in the 1970s and had the decorating flourishes to prove it. Maychruk notes that the shag carpeting on all three floors of gold, orange and red paid homage to popular ’70s colors.
The large kitchen, too, was probably renovated in that era. Upstairs, bathrooms were also updated roughly 50 years ago, but the house has a lot of space and great potential according to Maychruk.
Of note are the original details dating from E.E. Roberts’ design which make the house a historic classic in a village full of historic homes. The front porch with Prairie Style ornamentation welcomes all visitors.
In the entry of the home, an ornately tiled floor with the initial “A” for Amling in the center is in remarkable shape. The living room includes original art-glass windows and leaded-glass doors in the original cabinetry flanking the fireplace. More leaded glass graces the doors to the attached dining room, and the large windows on the landing of the staircase are also original art glass.
When the shag carpeting was ripped out for the sale, Maychruk notes that the original hardwood floors remained. In the dining room, patched flooring revealed the spot where an original built-in china cabinet probably stood, making it easy for a new, historically minded owner to build something in the spot.
The second floor retains most of its original layout, with a wide hallway and built-in cabinetry in the hall bath, originally the only full bathroom for the house. A second full bathroom was added at some point on the site of an original sleeping porch.
The attic has been finished and includes high ceilings and arched windows on multiple sides. Maychruk thinks the third floor could be renovated to become a primary suite.
At the end of the day, the house is primed for an extensive renovation to move it into the 21st century, but with over 3,200 square feet there is a lot of space for a family.
As soon as she listed the house, Maychruk received a flood of interest in the home, with several interested buyers bringing their contractors with them to get an idea of the extent of the needed renovations and an estimated cost to do the work.
Maychruk says interest in the home was so intense that she gave potential buyers a deadline of 6 p.m. on April 24 to submit their best offers.
“Once you’ve received multiple offers, you want to be fair and let everyone have a chance,” Maychruk said.