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Finding Zook’s Nooks

Owners uncover hidden design features left by idiosyncratic architect

Cotswolds-style house in Oak Brook designed by Hinsdale-based architect, Harold Zook

LIST PRICE: $2.399 million
SALE PRICE: $2.250 million

Built in 1938 on a secluded hillside site and enlarged over the years, this Cotswolds-style house still reveals the signature touches of its Hinsdale-based architect, Harold Zook: the spider-web pattern in the glass above the front door, as well as the wood beams, the stone fireplaces, and the sheltered window seats.

But Ray and Dawn Sprong, the home’s new owners, have also turned up some hidden features introduced by Zook, who died in 1949. “Every couple of days we find something else,” says Ray Sprong, while showing off the couple’s latest discovery: a pair of cabinets concealed behind the wood framing of a living-room doorway.

The Sprongs—he’s the head of an information technology company, and she owns three suburban childcare centers—bought the house from John and Judith Sprieser, who are, respectively, an investor and the former chief financial officer of Sara Lee. The Spriesers, who could not be reached for comment, had listed the house with Elaine Zannis and Peter Sutterlin of Coldwell Banker, initially asking $2.9 million.

Situated on one acre and adjacent to the Fullersburg Forest Preserve, the 6,000-square-foot house has 13 rooms. The provenance of some details isn’t certain—a triangular stone fireplace in 7the master bedroom, for instance, might be Zook’s—but Dawn Sprong notes that it all fits together. “There’s not one thing that was done cheaply here other than some light sconces on the second floor,” she says. “And they’re gone now.”

Send tips about high-end home sales to dennis@rodkin.com.


Photograph: Dennis Rodkin


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