Keck & Keck in Flossmoor
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List Price: $425,000
The Property: Chicagoans first saw the architecture of the Keck brothers at the Century of Progress Exposition, the world’s fair held here along Lake Michigan in 1933. One of those Chicagoans was a seven-year-old boy who about 50 years later would buy a Keck & Keck house in Flossmoor with his wife after their kids were grown.
By that time, Ted Krengel’s memory of the World’s Fair house was foggy, but he and his wife, Joan, were clear about why they liked today’s house: the popped-up roofs and floor-to-ceiling windows filled it with natural light and views of the surroundings.
On both the exterior and the interior, the architects used a simple palette of materials—wood, glass, and brick—to give the place a cohesive feeling. That’s still true; the wooden beams and tongue-and-groove covering on the ceilings and walls are intact throughout the home. None of it was ever painted except in the master bathroom.
After buying the house and its acre lot in 1986, the Krengels commissioned the architect T. Paul Young to make a very sensitive addition. The new 38-by-18-foot family room accomplished several things. It extended the house (built in 1952) into the wooded garden so the family wasn’t “looking sideways at the yard,” as Joan Krengel describes it; it opened up the relatively small living and dining rooms; and it carried through Keck characteristics including the walls of glass, the deep overhanging wooden eaves, and even their trademark window louvers. That last feature allows seasonal breezes into the house and also serves as a tribute to the Kecks’ artistry.
Another, more contemporary artist, is represented here as well. The Chicago sculptor Richard Hunt designed table and cabinet legs, light fixtures, and the hinges of built-in cabinetry for the addition and the terrace outside. The hinges adorn a large fixed-in-place cabinet in the family room that informally divides the large room into two smaller spaces more in scale with the original layout.
The opposite effect was achieved in what used to be a pair of small bedrooms, perhaps originally intended for servants. Set in a side pavilion off the main line of the house, the two bedrooms were combined into a larger single room now used as a study and exercise room. It has its own bathroom and terrace and could be turned back into a bedroom.
There are three main bedrooms lined up along an eastern wing of the house, all with their louvers, big windows, and wood ceilings, just as the Kecks made them (they’ve been well maintained over the years). At the far end of the wing is the master bath and bedroom. From this room, open on one whole side to the view out into the trees, lawn, and vegetable garden, it’s easy to see why that earlier Keck house made such an impression on one seven-year-old boy all those decades ago.
Price Points: Now in their 80s, the Krengels are moving to an apartment. They listed the house for sale in May, asking $449,000; they dropped the price to $425,000 in August. It’s the lowest-priced of the four houses in Flossmoor listed in the $425,000 to $450,000 range. Two others—this one and this one—are far more traditional. This ranch house, which just came on the market Tuesday at $449,000, has a pool and three-quarters of an acre more than the Krengels’ property.