Grace Hodges Bagley (1860-1944) was an important social reformer, suffragette, author, and early client of Frank Lloyd Wright, whose life and contributions have largely been forgotten.
"Finding Grace: Rediscovering the Life and Contributions of Social Reformer Grace Bagley, " a new exhibit temporarily located in the summer home of Grace Bagley in Hinsdale, educates and inspires its visitors to learn about Bagley's many significant social reform efforts and her impact on the Chicago area and beyond.
Exhibit co-curator Julia Bachrach explains on her blog (jbachrach.com) that the 1894 Dutch Colonial style house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright when he first established his own firm.
In 2021, when the Bagley House went on the market, preservationists feared it would fall victim to the teardown trend that pervades many of Chicago's western suburbs.
Fortunately, Safina Uberoi, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, and her husband, Lukas Ruecker, came to the rescue.
Uberoi and Ruecker, a couple restoring the Wright-designed Tonkens House in Cincinnati, will oversee a historic restoration of the original home, and the design of a respectful modern addition.
They were inspired by Grace Bagley's enormous contributions to childhood education, juvenile justice, housing reform, immigrant rights and women's suffrage, to bring her story back to public consciousness with this exhibition.
Bachrach and co-curator, Jean Follett, prepared landmark nominations for the building. As a result of their work, the village of Hinsdale officially designated the Bagley House as a local landmark in June 2022.
Visitors to the exhibit will have the rare and brief opportunity to tour this early Wright-designed home at 121 S. County Line Road.
Frank Lloyd Wright came to Chicago in 1887 and received training under two influential architects, Joseph Lyman Silsbee and Louis Sullivan. Wright went on to produce two of his earliest independent commissions in 1893 -- the Winslow House in River Forest and the Bagley House in Hinsdale.
A study in contrasts, the large Winslow House pointed the way to Wright's mature Prairie Style, while the modest and more traditional Bagley House enabled Wright to design an open floor plan with simple connections to the outdoors.
Guests can visit the free exhibit from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 3-17; on Dec. 16, it will close early at noon.
One of the only two homes in Oregon designed by famed architect Richard Neutra has come on the market listed for $3,550,000.
Neutra was Austrian-born architect who moved to the United States in 1923, working briefly for Frank Lloyd Wright before setting up shop in California. He’s now known in the history books for his contributions to modernism and the International movement, which eschewed decorative ornament in favor of blocky geometric forms and bands of windows, all made possible by new building technologies.
In 1940, Neutra heard from Jan and Peggy de Graaff. Jan was a horticulturist known for lilies, and Peggy was the grandchild of Ida and Isidor Straus, who held part ownership in the Macy’s department store and perished on the Titanic. The de Graaffs were moving to the area to establish a bulb farm and wanted a modern house fit for their collection of contemporary art and furniture.
They commissioned Neutra to design a home for them on a prized perch in Riverdale, just south of Portland proper—a 0.61-acre lot with stunning views downriver toward downtown. (An additional 0.25-acre parcel is included in the sale, featuring a flat grassy expanse that’s buildable.)
Neutra worked with a local supervisory architect, Van Evera Bailey, and the ensuing press upon its 1941 completion helped establish Bailey’s career. Historic pictures show a cedar-clad, flat-roofed volume with horizontal ribbons of windows anchored to the hillside. Apparently, Bailey talked the California-based Neutra out of exterior stucco in favor of wood to better fit the PNW climate.
In the ’80s, the house changed ownership, and successive remodels rendered it seriously unrecognizable from the original Neutra style. In 2003, new owners bought it with the goal to restore the home back to its roots as much as possible, with the help of local architect Ryan Walsh. Now, exterior tongue-and-groove siding has been reinstated in places, as well as the bands of windows wrapping a prominent corner on two levels.
Inside, in an ode to the original style, the ornamentation is kept spare, delivered via rich material picks, like the African mahogany at the living room fireplace. There are a few remaining swoops, hallmarks of the International form, like the curved wall in the entry and the gently circular staircase connecting the main floor to the upstairs bedrooms.
At 6,887 square feet across three levels, the floor plan is generous, underscored by high ceilings and big windows everywhere. A series of nooks and alcoves are sprinkled throughout, with several defined by custom built-ins, as in the den tucked behind the fireplace in the living room and the family room off the kitchen.
While the home has seen more than its fair share of change, much of it will be appreciated by today’s buyers, including the exterior deck lining the main floor, complete with an outdoor kitchen, expanded bathrooms, and a large laundry room with custom cabinetry on the same level as the upstairs bedrooms. Of course, there’s also what hasn’t changed: namely, the incredible views, which aren’t confined to just the principle areas but show up even from a humble bathroom on the lower level.
Photographer Pedro Guerrero was born 100 years ago this month. At age 22, he became the favored photographer for the world’s most famous architect – Frank Lloyd Wright. Dean Robbins has his story.
Pedro Guerrero spent most of his life in the Southwest and East Coast. But he’s still a Wisconsin favorite thanks to his ties to Frank Lloyd Wright. Guerrero was Wright’s chosen photographer, producing classic images of both the architect and his buildings.
Even decades after Wright’s death, Guerrero returned to Wisconsin often to regale local admirers with tales of his larger-than-life mentor. He loved the place so much he began spending summers here in the vicinity of Taliesin, Wright’s dazzling headquarters in Spring Green.
I went to see Guerrero speak at countless receptions in Wisconsin galleries, homes, and lecture halls. I never tired of his witty stories, especially the one about his fateful first meeting with Frank Lloyd Wright.
Pedro was the son of a humble sign painter in Mesa, Arizona. In 1939, as a 22-year-old art school dropout, he got up the nerve to apply for a photography job with Wright in nearby Scottsdale where the world’s most famous architect was busy building his winter headquarters. Wright saw promise in Guerrero’s portfolio of nudes and still lifes, and hired the stunned young man on the spot. He put Guerrero to work chronicling the dramatic structures taking shape in the Arizona desert.
After a few months of learning on the job, Guerrero packed up his bedroll to accompany Wright back to Wisconsin. On the drive into Spring Green, he marveled over southwest Wisconsin’s gentle hills and neat farmhouses. And then he saw Taliesin, a sandstone and cypress masterpiece nestled organically into the landscape. It was a photographer’s dream, and Guerrero set about photographing the compound’s buildings as if they were sculpture.
Wright loved seeing his work through Guerrero’s eyes and took him along to document other projects around Wisconsin. On these jaunts, the observant photographer collected stories he would tell for the rest of his life. Among his other eccentricities, Wright hated when clients dared to express their own tastes once they occupied his houses. He shamelessly rearranged their furniture and instructed Pedro to destroy any of their knickknacks that detracted from his pure artistic vision.
Guerrero eventually moved to the East Coast to work for magazines and other acclaimed artists. But he remained Wright’s preferred photographer, making himself available for on-call projects until the master’s death in 1959.
That might have been the end of Pedro Guerrero’s connection to Wisconsin. Beginning in the 1990s, however, his fame spread as one of Wright’s key collaborators. The state rediscovered him, and he rediscovered us. He became a frequent visitor who served as a link to a long-gone genius.
Pedro died in 2012, at 95, leaving his Wisconsin friends heartbroken. He’s buried here, in his adopted state, in the little cemetery across the road from Taliesin.
Wright was buried there, too. It’s fitting that his gravestone and Guerrero’s will spend eternity side by side.
The CEO of the Midland Center for the Arts in Midland, Michigan is excited about the potential of the facility's $47 million, two-year renovation.
"I needed a place like this (as a kid)," Jon Loos told a gathering of Center for the Arts supporters just before the ceremonial groundbreaking of the project. "Listening to a teacher giving a speech, or reading from a book, that wasn't my thing. That spark, that power of discovery that can come from playing, making, using your hands, using your mind. ... that's what this new museum will do. We can be the place that lights someone's fire."
Revealing a 30-foot-wide mural that depicts the future look of the Center for the Arts near the end of 2025, the mural shows people standing in the atrium and gazing downward into a newly renovated museum, where others are exploring the interactive exhibits. In other words, large portals will be created in the brick wall that surrounds the interior of the round atrium so that visitors can readily see what is inside and can admire the architecture of the late world-renowned architect Alden B. Dow, who designed the Center for the Arts.
"Not only are we going to enhance our facility, but we're also going to create an interactive museum experience that brings together science and art for education and entertainment," he continued. "Creativity and problem solving will be the focus of this new museum. We'll have a strong education program, and that's probably the part that excites me the most."
Spence Brothers is the construction management firm for the project, and Quinn Evans is the architectural firm designing the renovation.
The Center for the Arts, also known for its 1,500-seat auditorium that hosts renowned performers from around the world, will continue to operate during the renovation, Loos said - although the building might have to close temporarily at some point for safety reasons.
"The goal is to stay operational the majority of the time. We might have to close for a month or two for safety reasons. We really want this to be a safe project," he said. "But we vowed to stay open, keep going."
Loos also hinted that the Center for the Arts might spring some exciting "surprises" on the public during the renovation.
"We've got some innovative experiences that we might just pop along the way, and show Midland really what this new Center's going to be all about," he said.
In addition to renovating the museum, the 52-year-old Center for the Arts will update a lot of its building infrastructure, including the main entrance.
The $47 million project will also include a new education wing along the part of the building that faces St. Andrews Road, an open rooftop discovery space, and a centralized art and artifact storage facility and historical research archive. To date, 96% of the needed funds for the project have been raised. About $1.88 million still needs to be raised.