Frank Lloyd Wright’s Isidore Heller House, which has been struggling to find a buyer over the past four years, is back on the market for $2.425 million following a 10-month hiatus.
The 6,100-square-foot home at 5132 South Woodlawn Avenue in Hyde Park was built in 1897, just four years after Wright launched his solo architectural practice in Oak Park. Wright was in a transitional phase of his career at the time, yet the Heller House hints at the style he would later become known for and is “one of the most important surviving examples of his emerging Prairie style,” according to the 2004 plaque designating the home as a national historic landmark.
Classic Prairie style elements come through with horizontal lines, elongated eaves, and rectangular stained-glass windows. But there are some signs that Wright hadn’t yet fully committed to the new style when he designed the home in 1896. Ornate details—including the third-floor frieze, which was created by the sculptor and frequent Wright collaborator Richard Bock, and the grey limestone columns and detailing around the front door—give a nod to Wright’s mentor, Louis Sullivan.
While many Prairie style homes are designed to be long and low so they blend in with their surroundings, this one has three levels, likely a response to the narrow lot it was built on, though the lot was later expanded. The third floor initially housed a playroom and servants’ quarters, but now serves as a standalone apartment with five rooms, including two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a full-sized bathroom. An elevator takes guests up to the third floor from the home’s side entrance, which makes it an appealing rental option for a nanny, faculty members at the nearby University of Chicago, or graduate students, says Diane Silverman, president of Urban Search of Chicago, which is listing the property.
The rest of the home has five additional bedrooms, three bathrooms, and an open floor plan, which Wright favored over the closed-off spaces that were popular in the Victorian era. Wright’s design anticipated modern tastes, boasting sizeable rooms, a kitchen with four pantries, large closets, and high ceilings. The home also has four fireplaces, a finished basement, and a detached two-car garage.
“You can see how advanced Wright was. There is a very Victorian house as the south neighbor and then this wonderful Prairie style house right next door to it,” Silverman says. “It just shows Wright was doing something very different.”
The home last sold in 2004 for $1.8 million. Since then, it’s been listed and removed from the market two times before being listed again this week. The sellers, who’ve owned the house for nine years, are holding steady at the $2.4 million listing price. The listing description notes how restaurants, shops, and the forthcoming Barack Obama Presidential Center are bringing renewed energy to Hyde Park. All that energy has the sellers hoping the third time on the market is the charm.
3 months ago