Visiting Oak Park is like walking through an outdoor museum where you can see architectural styles popular during the 19th and early 20th centuries. What makes the experience even more special is the town has the largest collection of buildings designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, including this six-bedroom, five-bathroom home that just hit the market for nearly $1.5 million.
Completed in 1895, the residence was built when Wright was just starting his career as an independent architect. Living barely a block away, 28-year-old Wright was hired by his Oak Park neighbors to remodel or design their homes, usually in historic revival styles influenced by his first employer Joseph Lyman Silsbee. You can see those touches in this home’s high-pitched gables and pointed Gothic windows. A photo from a 1900 issue of Architectural Review shows the residence without the Tudor half-timbering on the gable. This design detail was not included in Wright’s original drawings, either, meaning it was probably added at a later date.
Wright’s mentor Louis Sullivan also had an impact on his early work, which is evident in the dwelling’s corner pier fretwork, rectilinear brick chimney, and dominant geometric form of the octagonal sunroom. That influence is further apparent on the inside with the wooden partition of columns and spindles between the reception room and hallway.
A $12,000 remodeling job for Harrison and Lizzie Young, Wright lifted a small Victorian farmhouse originally constructed by William Coman before 1873 from its original foundation and moved the building back 16 feet. He then constructed a whole new front facade for the Youngs and their growing family. The new rooms included an entry, foyer, reception area, library, and living room on the first floor. Above, he added a study as well as multiple bedrooms and bathrooms.
The wraparound front porch, which extends across the front of the home, has rounded, cantilevered ends with the north end forming a bracket-supported porte-cochere over a carriage-height entrance. There is a direct opening in the porch so people could step directly onto it from their horse carriage.
A fire on the front porch roof in 1989 caused approximately $100,000 in damage to the home’s spacious living room and the above master bathroom. During repairs the porch roof was reinforced to correct sagging of the cantilever on the north end. It last sold over a decade ago in September of 2010 for just over a million dollars.
The nearly 130-year-old home was restored by its current owners, much of it done by the late architect John Thorpe, while a major remodeling in 2012 included a new kitchen, spacious mudroom, extensive family room, and completely rebuilt back porch. Although it doesn’t look like a typical Wright design, the Young residence signifies an important time period of transition and experimentation for the architect, foreshadowing what was to come.