Last week, two neighboring homes in Kenwood both came on the market on the same day at the same price, $1.48 million. Although they hardly resemble one another, they have a lot in common. Both were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright at an early but pivotal point in his career. Both still have some gorgeous rooms and details by Wright but otherwise need a ton of work. And both 130-year-old homes are being sold by the children of owners who have lived there for more than 55 years.
“Having the two available at the same time should give people a chance to explore the ways they can make updates,” says Louisa McPharlin, who is the listing agent for both the Warren McArthur house and the George Blossom House. She estimates that each house needs about $500,000 in repairs and updates on top of the purchase price.
McPharlin grew up in the McArthur and is now selling it for her 100-year-old mother, Ruth Michael, who bought the home in 1954 with her now-deceased husband, David. (As a high-schooler in 1957, McPharlin did the makeup for Wright, Carl Sandburg, and Alistair Cooke when they taped a conversation on WTTW.)
Wright was working for Louis Sullivan when he designed the two houses as side jobs, an arrangement that got him fired when the boss learned of Wright’s work on a third Kenwood home, the Dr. Allison Harlan house a few blocks north. Both homes were designed before Wright introduced his singular style, but inside “you have his hallmark—woodwork,” says Charlie Baum, who is selling the Blossom House for his mother, artist Alice Shaddle Baum. She and her now-deceased husband and fellow artist, Don Baum, bought it in 1956.
Click through the photos below for more about the houses.