Stanley Tigerman’s Surrealist ‘Animal Crackers’ House Hits the Market in Highland Park

One of the iconoclastic modernist architect’s most playful works is available for the first time in 12 years, for $599,000.

Highland Park's Animal Crackers House   Photo: Ian Spula

“It’s just a box of animal crackers,” said architect Stanley Tigerman of his 1978 home at Woodbine and Edgewood Roads in Highland Park, when I asked him about the commission’s place in his six-decade oeuvre. That was the intended allusion from the get-go, and guess what—the nickname stuck. Original drawings actually have the house painted in bands of blue, yellow, and red, but both sets of owners shied away from that very ballsy option, figuring curvaceous walls of raw wood rebellious enough. Being selfish, I’d love to see a complete and faithful execution. And to put Tigerman’s true feelings on record: “It’s OK, just not as good as it was. Shit happens.”

“Animal Crackers” is back on the market for just the second time in 35 years. The sellers are ready for change, asserts listing agent Noah Levy of Coldwell Banker. But don’t interpret that as a knock on the home, which remains in great shape and projects playfulness from its gracious setback on a half-acre corner lot. The form of an old school animal cracker box—particularly its exaggerated mechanics—is undeniably present in the structure. There’s no inkling of that inside, however, just several grand piano-shaped (or harp?) windows, dozens of small rectangular portals, and light wood laminate flooring all satisfying one Tigerman constant: brightness and abundant natural lighting.

The home looks like it should contain more than 2,100 usable square feet, but the front-facing double garage gobbles a big share of the footprint and the double-height atrium takes another chunk from the second level. Thankfully, a finished lower level with rec room kicks in 400 square feet not originally planned for the home. White box interiors ring the garage with bending inner walls and variable window configuration differentiating each room. All three bedrooms are on the second level, and two have portal windows to the atrium amplified by newly installed skylights.

According to Levy, some of the small windows could stand replacing. And the eat-in kitchen is a linoleum jungle, albeit with a lovely composition and a range of culinary artifacts (look no further than the wall mounted oven and broiler). Recent improvements do include three new bathrooms (two full, one half) and a new roof. A flex space near the front door has been appointed an office and a bonus room hidden between the atrium/living room and the dining room works well as a workshop or art studio. Both are evidence of what Levy deems an inherent flexibility to the home’s main level, although it’s hard to imagine the dining room or kitchen trading places with anything else.

Price Points: Animal Crackers listed on March 7 for $599,000. The previous listing was for $499,000 in 2001, with a 2002 closing price of $484,833. Taxes are $12,879, reflecting the oversized lot but also Highland Park’s generally high burden.

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