The Frank J. Baker House in Wilmette was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1909. Reportedly, Wright himself brought the plans to Baker in Wilmette via horseback. A co-founder of First National Bank of Wilmette, Baker also helped bring electricity to the North Shore while working for Commonwealth Edison.
Eric and Amy Bauer purchased the home in October 2019 for $600,000. It last sold in 1957 to architect Walter Sobel and his wife, gallery owner Betty Sobel, who called the place home until their deaths in 2014 and 1999, respectively.
The Bauers brought in Oak Park contractor Pam Whitehead of P&P Limited and Wilmette architect Mike Venechuk's to help them bring the house back to life. At roughly 4,800 square feet, the Prairie Style home is Wright's largest home in the suburb. "It's about two blocks from the lake, on a triple lot," Whitehead said. "The lot alone is worth a lot of money, but the house is a historic landmark, so you can't tear it down. It's pretty much in its original state."
Barbara Gordon, executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, says that the organization was glad to see the house in the right hands.
"The Frank J. Baker House is a unique and important representation of Frank Lloyd Wright's early Prairie Style," Gordon wrote in an email. "Constructed in 1909, it has a long and interesting history in the village of Wilmette. Wright's architecture has recently been recognized as having World Heritage status, thus there is an imperative to the saving and caring for all of his existing houses. The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy offered the Bauers its assistance in learning about the house and caring for it shortly after they acquired the property. We were given the opportunity to review their rehab plans and our staff architect, board attorney and I spent an afternoon with Amy reviewing their intentions for the house. Our board attorney convinced the Wilmette Historic Preservation Commission that the Bauers were absolutely the perfect new stewards for such an historic house and that their plans were exactly what the house needed to preserve its historic character yet making it livable in the 21st century."
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The Whirling Arrow gives us a new summer Virtual Classroom project. Here we’ll learn about Frank Lloyd Wright’s Elements of Design while using a Magicplan 2D/3D floor plan app to redesign and recreate our spaces! Click here for more information.
The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park presents “Preserving What’s Wright,” an annual fundraising event. Due to COVID-19, this year’s event has been moved online.
The Kraus House, also known as the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park, is a house in Kirkwood, Missouri designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The house was designed and constructed for Russell and Ruth Goetz Kraus, and the initial design was conceived in 1950. Construction continued until at least 1960 and was never formally completed. The owners lived in the house for about 40 years (Ruth died in 1992).
In 1997, the house was recognized with listing on the National Register of Historic Places of the National Park Service. Russell Kraus sold the house in 2001 to a non-profit organization formed for the specific purpose of saving it. The title was subsequently transferred to the St. Louis County Parks and Recreation Department, which maintains the 10.5-acre grounds as Ebsworth Park.
Starting May 26 through June 7, the online event will feature a unique auction of exclusive tours, mid-century modern inspired art, fun vintage items and special Kraus House memorabilia. More information here.
The Chicago Tribune reports relocation plans for Wright's Booth cottage in Glencoe have taken another twist with the Glencoe Historical Society looking to add a basement to the structure’s new site.
At a May 21 village board meeting held via video conference, historical society representatives asked village trustees for assistance in infrastructure-related concerns including construction of a new concrete sidewalk, utility connections from the cottage’s foundation to a main line and an underground conduit to generate new electrical service.
The village estimated the work would cost between $45,000 to $50,000. This comes on top of the $15,000 to $20,000 of in-kind services already offered by the village, such as creating utility connections in the right-of-way.
The historical society wants a larger amount of its project budget to go toward a basement that would be used as a workspace and storage facility. The elected officials said that with the village facing budget issues given the COVID-19 outbreak, they did not want to spend additional resources.
The ask was the latest development in a village-wide drama that started last year when a Riverwoods couple sought a demolition permit for the cottage, drawing concerns from preservationist groups given the historic nature of the structure. The cottage was designed by Wright for attorney and real estate developer Sherman Booth in 1913.
In January, the Glencoe Park District approved an agreement with Glencoe Historical Society that would allow the society to move the three-bedroom cottage from its current 239 Franklin Road location to Park 7N, a distance of less than 1,000 feet. The historical society would only pay the Park District a nominal fee for the land.
Meanwhile, the historical society is looking to navigate through some drainage issues at the proposed site. GHS officials said they were aware of the water issues when they signed the agreement with the Park District, but were surprised by the extent of the problem. Ed Goodale, the Historical Society’s immediate past president said they want to alleviate the drainage issues but that comes with a “significant” cost. More about this project here.
The Pappas House in St. Louis, Missouri, designed by Wright in 1955 and completed in 1964, was sold earlier this year to the Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating and preserving the work of Wright.
Michael Miner, the organization's CEO, has said that he plans to turn the 3,000 square-foot house into a museum and a multi-use facility, renting it out for events, corporate retreats, and educational purposes. But first, the house needs structural work, including a new septic system, a new roof, and a new set of blocks supporting the roof. And that's where the tour fundraiser comes in.
On June 7, the house — which is located in Town and Country on Mason Road at Interstate 64 (Highway 40) — will hold two cocktail party receptions in order to maintain social distancing. One will be at 2 p.m. and the other at 6:30 p.m.; social distancing will be observed and masks absolutely must be worn indoors.
Tickets are $250 and are limited to the number of people allowed to assemble in a group, which is currently 10 per reception. If there is enough interest in the event, another reception or receptions may be held, Miner said. See the photos here.
On May 21, the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust laid off 13 employees, 25 percent of its workforce. Celeste Adams, Trust president and CEO, said the layoffs are directly tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. "We have been hard hit for an extended period of time. If you had told me in March, I would not have believed that we would be closed until June. The situation has evolved."
The Trust initially furloughed employees in March, with the hopes that those employees could return. Since that time, Adams said a small crisis team has worked reduced hours for reduced pay to try to raise needed funds to support the Trust. She said as it became clear that the immediate future of the Trust had changed, it was clear that cuts had to be made.
As the Trust grapples with changing circumstances, Adams praises donors, the homeowners who have agreed to have their homes featured on the delayed Wright Plus in 2021, and Trust volunteers. Noting that the Trust could no longer afford the lawn care services for their sites, she says that a volunteer mowed the grass at the Home and Studio when it got too high. "There have been so many acts of kindness," she said.
Adams is hopeful the Trust's sites, including the Home and Studio, can open in some capacity in June. She says the Trust desperately needs the revenue of the tours and gift shops, and they are making inquiries about how they can resume small tours of eight to 10 guests in the future, as well as offering recorded tours for visitors to take on their own outside.
"We are still very much in a stage of surviving. Perhaps recovery will take a year or more. It's very difficult for everyone involved. It's a sad moment for everyone, but we had to face the facts of the situation," said Adams. Read more here.
A piece of architectural history just traded hands in Silver Lake. The modernist home that celebrated architect John Lautner designed and used as his personal residence has sold for $1.67 million.
Built in 1939, the hillside residence first hit the market in April and found a buyer about a week later, eventually closing for $80,000 over the original asking price.
Spanning three stories with just over 1,200 square feet, Lautner designed the house fresh off of working with Frank Lloyd Wright and lived there once it was done. It landed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.
The house has maintained its striking style, showcasing a design palette of yellow stucco and redwood. Inside, sloped ceilings provide natural ventilation over the split-level living spaces. Built-in seating adjoins a brick fireplace in the living room, which enjoys sweeping treetop views through a wall of picture windows. The home has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, as well as a kitchen and dining area that expand to a landscaped patio.
The successful sale shows continued interest in the late architect’s work. Actor Ed Norton dropped $11.8 million on a Lautner-designed beach house in Malibu Colony in 2017, and earlier this year, Amanda Hearst, descendent of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, paid $5.9 million for a modernist home he built in Hollywood Hills West. In 2014, Lautner’s famous futuristic Silvertop residence sold for $8.55 million — or 14% over the asking price. See the photos here.
Just a reminder not to forget the chance to See the Best of Frank Lloyd Wright in a PechaKucha Live-Stream in honor of the famed architect’s 153rd birthday
The Westcott House Foundation, Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, and Wright sites across the nation are teaming up with PechaKucha to present a live online global event in celebration of Wright's work and legacy. The event, entitled “Wright Sites x PechaKucha,” will feature presentations in the highly-visual and efficient PechaKucha style, which consists of 20 image-based slides that automatically advance after 20 seconds, with each talk lasting only 400 seconds.
The free virtual event, scheduled for Monday, June 8, 2020 at 9:00 p.m. EST, will feature curators and speakers from the following public Frank Lloyd Wright sites:
Fallingwater (Mill Run, Pennsylvania)
Taliesin (Iowa County, Wisconsin)
Taliesin West (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Martin House (Buffalo, New York)
Graycliff (Derby, New York)
Unity Temple (Oak Park, Illinois)
Westcott House (Springfield, Ohio)
“Our Frank Lloyd Wright community has rallied together since day one of the pandemic, which forced the closings of Wright sites across the country,” says Marta Wojcik, Executive Director & Curator of the Westcott House. “This special live-stream PechaKucha event will connect and delight Frank Lloyd Wright fans, architects, and design aficionados across the globe with highly unique stories and perspectives.”
The owners of two private Wright homes, Tonkens House (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Brandes House (Sammamish, Washington) will also give presentations. Both serve on the Board of Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy.
Additional speakers include Mark Dytham, MBE, co-founder of PechaKucha; photographer Andrew Pielage, who will share his quest to photograph every Frank Lloyd Wright structure ever built; Bill James, a designer with Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, who will share his career journey studying and designing Wright-related projects; and Karen Severns and Koichi Mori, a couple dedicated to raising awareness of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural legacy in Japan.
“Wright was at the forefront of technology and innovation, which is why his legacy continues to inspire,” says Mark Dytham MBE, principal of Klein Dytham architecture and co-founder of PechaKucha. “There’s no better moment to visit Wright sites than now for fresh insight as we face a new world.”
Attendees can find the live-stream event online here. Presentations will be available to view within 24 hours after the event. For additional information, visit westcotthouse.org.