Architect brothers George Fred and William Keck built more modernist houses on the North Shore than anywhere else in the world. Their work on subdivisions and for wealthy clients made the Keck & Keck brand, characterized by low post-and-beam homes with flat roofs, modular layout, passive solar design, and cedar siding. One of Keck & Keck’s best known commissions was the Forest Crest subdivision in Glencoe: 22 ranch homes on a circuit of blocks bordering Turnbull Woods Forest Preserve. And it just so happens their model for this 1952 project has hit the market for the first time.
Ira Weinstein bought the three-bedroom model from the developer but kept in contact with the Kecks for consultation and troubleshooting. In recent years, however, the single-level unit has become too much space and a lot of yard for the 95-year-old Weinstein, who used to garden the entire third-acre lot and the roof. The architects planned for roof access for plantings and gatherings, but Weinstein eventually sealed it off and removed the staircase. With a little doing, a buyer could restore access.
The natural concern with any Keck house coming to market is whether an investor, with teardown on the brain, will get to it first. These homes are on sizable lots in a desirable suburb, so the profit is in new construction. Looking at the rosier outcome, Weinstein believes a buyer with a particular affinity for Keck homes, like himself 62 years ago, may step up in time.
Though this is a modest Keck, it has many graceful aspects: brick and cedar exterior; wood beam ceilings throughout; heated tile floors; subtle built-in storage in bedroom walls; a grand wood-burning fireplace; and sliding doors to a back patio and Japanese garden. “Sometimes I look up at the natural wood ceilings and think what a work of art this place is.”
The home also boasts one of the most recognizable Keck signatures: fixed Thermopane windows in every room with separate vents for circulation. This device, along with the intentional lack of West-facing windows, regulates heat in summer months. “Everything was done with a purpose,” says Weinstein. Central air has never been used at this house, but Weinstein and his wife have three window units for the bedrooms.
Weinstein added an extra module to the floor plan about 20 years ago, consisting of a three-season lounge/workshop and a greenhouse. The addition pushes out beyond the attached one-car garage and mimics the Keck rooms in materials and scale. It also brings square footage to a respectable 1,792.
Price Points: This is the only Keck & Keck house on the market in Glencoe at press time. Much of what Keck & Keck built was and still is affordable. Of course, locale and condition account for some variation in the pricing of their ranch designs. The architects did design the odd modernist mansion on major acreage, like this one in Lake Forest, but no matter the size Keck & Keck homes are livable and show deference to the landscape.
Linda Fink of @properties has the listing.
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