Devout Frank Lloyd Wright fans will go to great lengths to visit homes and buildings designed by the noted Prairie School architect. A select few even go a step further, venturing to buy their own Wright-designed home.
Even rarer? Enthusiasts who build their own properties in the image of Wright’s organic architecture.
Longtime Orland Park residents David and Ruth Gust are one such couple. In 2005, they constructed a 15,000-square-foot home at 111 Singletree Road, which took inspiration from Wright’s work across the country. The pair traveled to California, Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, and around the Chicago area studying the details of various Wright homes.
“We picked out a room that was unique to the different homes that we visited and put a piece of those six to eight places into this house,” says David. “We spent a year on the home before starting construction, then spent nearly three years building it.”
For instance, the office in the Gusts’ home was modeled after the living room in the Robie House. Meanwhile, their basement borrows from the Hollyhock House in Los Angeles. The Gusts also hired a dedicated craftsman to fabricate their home's 324 stained glass windows, and ordered truckloads of lumber to be milled on-site for interior trim.
While the Gusts borrowed heavily from Wright for the home's appearance, they also wanted modern technology and conveniences. 111 Singletree boasts a four-car garage, heated driveway, elevator, remote controlled interior lighting, and a theater room with a 10-foot display. There’s also a focus on entertaining, with an elaborate basement bar and game area.
The Gusts planned the home's details so meticulously that even the brick and mortar were serious considerations. “Frank Lloyd Wright hated vertical lines, so all of the horizontal mortar is white and vertical mortar is red,” says Gust. “There are a lot of little details in that house that a FLW buff — and whoever buys that house has to be a FLW buff — will appreciate.”
Agent Jim LaHa of Jameson Sotheby’s agrees that the home requires a specific type of buyer, but notes that the home has already generated interest. “With a house as unique as this, it could take some time to find a buyer, but we’ve already got our first showing lined up in the first week on the market.”
But Gust says the point of constructing the home wasn’t for resale value. It was to build their dream house — one to share with family and friends at the holidays and on special occasions. “In theory, we knew that this was going to be our final home,” says the 74-year-old Gust. “We had built a number of homes prior to this one, so we knew what we wanted to do.”
But with adult children and grandchildren living elsewhere around the country, the Gusts have been spending more time at their ranches in Missouri, and have decided to sell.