Four Midcentury Modern Homes for Sale Around Chicago
For the price of a comparably sized McMansion.
Published Sept. 3, 2020, at 4:35 p.m.
Text by Whet Moser
Chicago can boast a breathtaking array of architectural styles. But for the truly mod midcentury masterpieces — long, low-slung ranches with lots of glass and hardwood — you have to get out of town, even all the way to Indiana. There, the style can truly thrive on large, lush suburban lots. And despite the sought-after aesthetic and often solid pedigree, the prices aren’t any higher than a comparably sized McMansion.
A bonus: Chicago’s proximity to the industrial cluster that gave America Herman Miller, Steelcase, and Haworth — Grand Rapids, a.k.a. Furniture City — makes sourcing the furniture fun.
This four-bedroom, three-bath house is an early work by Rodney Wright, who was born on a farm in Valparaiso, Indiana as one of 19 children. Instead of college, he apprenticed under Harry Weese and Edward Burch. In the 1970s, after getting a degree in urban planning, Wright became a guru of passive solar and led the design of a “solar village” in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin. (He’s also the architect of the never-built Hank Williams Village in Uptown, where he worked as an activist planner.) Swaths of glass, including raised-roof skylights, give Wright’s design the light the era is known for.
A hillside gives this unique two-story ranch its inspiration, stacking living spaces and a bedroom suite over an appropriately updated high-end kitchen with an open transition into a dining area and den. The linear design gives every room a view onto the wooded 5.4-acre lot. It has five beds and four baths, including a guest house, and a two-car garage.
If you want something more minimalist, midcentury stalwarts and glass-house pioneers Keck and Keck designed this AIA award-winning 1957 house. It’s deceptively large — six beds and four baths at 4,200 square feet — and opens up on two sides to a patio from the architects’ distinctive glass-wall construction. Interior glass walls separate the den from a light-filled home office, with views out to the lawn and surrounding trees.
Out in Munster is a huge 1964 ranch by an architect whose work can often be found in the vicinity of Keck and Keck homes: Homewood-based John McPherson. This design makes full use of its big lot: you cross a moat to get in the front door, and on the other side of the house is an in-ground swimming pool. Inside it has been lovingly maintained, with era-appropriate tile, a gorgeous dark-wood room divider, and a floating staircase. For nearly $1 million, it comes with five bedrooms, four baths, and a considerable 6,400 square feet.