In the late 19th Century, the Prairie School movement sparked a radical shift in residential architecture, with designs moving toward an organic style that sought to integrate homes into their natural surroundings. Prairie School residences come in all shapes and sizes, but defining characteristics include long, flat roof lines, the use of stone and wood, and symmetrical ornamentation.
Many key Prairie School architects worked under the tutelage of the early Chicago School influencers, helping to set a new precedent for design in American architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright is the best remembered name from the era, but many others, including George W. Maher, E. E. Roberts, and John Van Bergen, left their marks throughout the Chicago area.
It should come as no surprise that Chicago, as the Prairie School’s birthplace, has a rich inventory of the era’s buildings. Here’s a look at some of those homes for sale around Chicago right now.
Built in 1929 well after the Prairie School had been established, this five-bedroom home designed by John S. Van Bergen possesses signature Prairie stylings that resemble early Frank Lloyd Wright works. A matching rear coach house adds an additional two bedrooms to the property, making this one a rare find for architecture buffs.
Oak Park may have the largest Frank Lloyd Wright collection in the world, but there’s much more to the western suburb’s historic district. Take for instance this 3,500-square-foot home designed by E. E. Roberts. Built in 1906, the home finds Roberts borrowing from the American Foursquare with a large front porch. Still, he added distinct Prairie flavor in the form of a Chicago-style bay windows and long, flat roof eaves.
This cascading four-bedroom by William E. Drummond showcases the grandeur of Prairie School with a series of windows and flowing setbacks. The airy interior is a departure from Wright’s typically cavernous floor plans. Meticulously preserved, this 4,000-square-footer on the North Shore should please any fan of the Prairie movement.
Surrounded by a lush landscape, this 1901 home designed by Robert Closson Spencer Jr. and Horace S. Powers almost resembles a grown-up tree house. The architects solved a tricky design challenge by suspending the home’s second floor over the driveway. The main entryway and foyer are also pure Prairie School, leading visitors through a maze of greenery before they reach the front door.
Another nearby Maher-designed home has joined this one on the market in Buena Park, listing for $4.5 million. Located in the Hutchinson Street Historic District, this hulking mansion boasts six bedrooms and five full bathrooms on a 12,000-square-foot floor plan. The distinctive building is an example of changing trends in upscale residential architecture during the turn of the century, scaling back the grandeur for a home that blends in better than its predecessors.
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