List Price: $1.6 million
The Property: Don Erickson, an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright’s, designed this 14-room house in Barrington for himself and his family in 1969. “The house was his laboratory,” says his widow, Pat. “He was always doing something new to it.” She notes that the pairs of small decorative vertical piers that appear to support the three massive hanging brick chimneys are the last items he designed before his death in 2006, when he was 77.
A highlight of the L-shaped living area are the two carpeted, amoeba-shaped conversation pits surrounded by heavy rock walls and low, outward-sloping windows. The house is “very shagadelic,” says Joe Kunkel, the real-estate agent handling the sale, “but you can see Mr. Erickson’s mind working everywhere you look.” That would include the pagoda-like roofs that funnel daylight from above; the brick and tile floors that suggest a connection to the earth; and the three children’s bedrooms, each with a different kind of loft or play area. A guest bedroom off the family room is more conventional.
And then there is the master bedroom, which has two separate bathrooms. As Pat Erickson explains in the video, her husband felt that dark, private bathrooms are the province of repressed people, but he built one like that for his first wife. Erickson later added a bathroom with a glass ceiling and an open stone-walled shower.
The house evolved in other ways, too. The swimming pool, for instance, was originally outside. “But Don eventually figured out that he lived in Illinois,” Pat says. Now enclosed, the pool is part of an informal living area that encompasses the kitchen and family room. Similarly, the home’s original design had a sunlit pagoda hanging above the garage; the light seemed wasted there, so Erickson built a floor above the garage and put his office there.
Erickson was a prolific architect whose organic style was at its height in the 1960s and1970s. Among other locales, he built houses in Park Ridge, Inverness, and Glen Ellyn. His most famous work is the Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale, now operated as a Hilton.
Price Points: After Don Erickson’s death, his widow put the house on the market priced at $3.9 million. Two agents and several price cuts later, she is now asking $1.6 million. That’s not much more than the value of the home’s ten-acre parcel of land, which backs up to a wetland preserve. That’s not to suggest the house itself has no value, only to demonstrate that the price is remarkably low.
Listing Agent: Joe Kunkel of Baird & Warner; 312-371-0986 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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