For the first time, two Frank Lloyd Wright-designed properties are being offered together in one sale. Located just outside of Kalamazoo in Galesburg, Michigan, the homes offer a unique opportunity for the Wright aficionado.
Oak Park realtor Victoria Krause Schutte of @properties Christie’s International Real Estate is co-listing the property with Fred Taber of Michigan’s Jaqua Realtors.
“There are so many firsts with this property. It’s the first time two neighboring Wright’s have been owned by one owner, and the first time two neighboring Wright properties are for sale at the same time,” Taber said.
The homes are part of a community called The Acres. In 1947, a group of scientists working at Upjohn pharmaceutical company joined forces to create a planned community of modern, affordable houses in a rural setting. They were all Wright admirers and convinced the famous architect to design the homes, which they would later build themselves.
Out of the 21 homes originally planned, only 5 were built on the 70-acre site. The homes are set among forested acres on circular lots. Each is an example of Wright’s Usonian period, in which he incorporated native materials, flat roofs, generous overhangs, cantilevered carports, built-in furniture and windows that blur the boundaries between interior and exterior.
Today, the entire neighborhood of The Acres is listed on the National Register for Historic Places, a further testament, Schutte said, of how special the listing is.
The two homes being offered for sale are the Samuel and Dorothy Eppstein House and the Eric and Pat Pratt House, named for their original owners. Taber said of the houses, “They’re great homes. They both have their own feels.”
The Eppstein House is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house that has 2.250 square feet of living space. The house was built in 1953. The house includes built-in furniture designed by Wright, and a 10-foot, floor-to-ceiling glass façade that opens to one of three terraces overlooking an expanse of wildflowers.
In 2017, the current owners, Marika Broere and Tony Hillebrandt, undertook an extensive restoration of the home, rebuilding the roof, updating the electrical and plumbing systems, re-staining the woodwork, double glazing the windows, adding air conditioning and removing a swimming pool.
The Pratt House is connected to the Eppstein House by a sweep of parkland. Built in 1951, the 2,200 square-foot home features a restored mahogany exterior. The home has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a library, and a large open living space. The home has the cantilevered carport typical of Usonian houses, as well as several outdoor terraces.
Broere and Hillebrandt also restored this home, after its owners offered it to them for sale mid-restoration.
Schutte said, “No expense was spared in the restorations. It’s such a heavy lift, and they did it all. These houses have been restored meticulously. There’s nothing left to do.”
Noting that the owners took great pains to stay true to Wright’s vision for the homes, Schutte added, “Keep in mind that these restorations happened pre-Covid. If done now, they would cost three to four times the amount.”
Schutte and Taber are listing the two houses for $4,500,000, and said there are many possibilities for the parcel. The homes have been used as the location for photo shoots, marketing campaigns and events. The current owners have found that architecture enthusiasts are drawn to the homes. The Epstein House has been rented as an Airbnb for three years, with a peak yearly income of $157,000.
Remarking that the property could appeal as a family compound or a corporate retreat, Schutte said, “We’re marketing this globally. Who knows where the buyer will come from? It could be Chicago, New York, California or overseas.”
While the Wright name is bound to drive interest in the homes, both Schutte and Taber said the homes’ mid-century flair and the natural environment of the neighborhood are big draws, as well.
Schutte said, “Even if you’re not an architecture fan, these homes are beautiful and peaceful. They get great light. Frank Lloyd Wright fit them perfectly into the landscape. There’s only one lane that goes through the seventy acres. You can see deer frolicking.”
Taber pointed out that another benefit to The Acres is the fact that the seventy acres cannot be developed further. All of the vacant lots are owned by the association, providing the owners with unfettered access to green space.
Galesburg is roughly 10 miles from the Kalamazoo airport, and the drive to Lake Michigan resort communities is about an hour.
Schutte said that the opportunity to buy two of Wright’s designs in the community is one that can’t be matched. “It’s the only thing like it in the world. That’s no exaggeration,” she said.