An Early Wright Revamp in Oak Park
List Price: $1.195 million
Sale Price: $1.050 million
The Property: Renovated by Frank Lloyd Wright early in his career, this 17-room Oak Park house had been on and off the market for more than two years before finally selling at about 61 percent of its original asking price. “It’s spectacular, but homes like this are high maintenance,” says Anne Ferri, the Baird & Warner agent who represented the house for its sellers, James and Alicia Farrell. “A lot of buyers just want to move in and not worry about the architecture and the maintenance details.”
Known as the Harrison P. Young House, the house dates to before 1888; Wright remodeled it in 1895. He created the broad, sheltering porch roof with a semicircular driveway overhang that let people alight from carriages directly to the porch. The porch is part of a Wright-designed addition that also contains the living room and an upstairs bedroom. On the outside, he used carved corner posts that give the house a subtle Japanese flavor.
Inside, Wright installed a glassed-in sitting room, as well as a wide Roman brick fireplace that presages his Prairie-style fireplaces. The architect added wood banding on the upper walls and ceilings of some main rooms, and he crafted a wooden screen that separates the new living room from the large foyer while allowing natural light penetrate to the inner space.
Wright’s addition made the foyer central to the first floor. “The dining room, the living room and the receiving room all radiate off it, which is pretty beautiful,” Ferri says. There is an updated kitchen in the rear, with a former servants’ space now functioning as a family room.
The second floor is “a little quirkier,” Ferri says. Some ceilings are lower because of the steeply pitched roof, and many potential buyers thought the two back bedrooms (originally servant quarters) were too small. There are five bedrooms in all, including the master, which incorporates two original rooms. A third floor, tucked under the peaks of the roof, now serves as a family room.
The Farrells, whom I could not reach, are empty nesters moving back to the city, Ferri says. On August 4th, they put the house under contract with a buyer who is not yet identified. The sale closed September 29th.
Price Points: The house first went on the market, with a different agent, in early 2008, with an asking price of about $1.7 million. The price dropped a few times, and the house was not on the market continuously. Ferri got the listing in February 2010 and started with an asking price of $1.325 million before cutting it a few times to the final asking price, $1.195 million. According to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, the Farrells paid $595,000 for the home in 1996. Ferri says that their investment in updating and maintenance costs over the years was “huge.”
Listing Agent: Anne Ferri of Baird & Warner; 708-697-5900.