Who doesn’t want a home with an architectural pedigree? The best part of living in Chicagoland is the endless number of buildings designed by well-known architects, whether it’s someone from the Prairie School like George W. Maher or a distinguished midcentury modern architect like Edward Dart. There is a lot of choose from. But you don’t have to stay in the city of Chicago, or even Cook Country, to find unique residential architecture. Let’s cross the border into Lake County and take a look at what’s currently on the real estate market (even though a couple of these homes may have already found a potential buyer). Just remember when it comes to big names in architecture, it’s going to cost you!
The one element that sets architect Edward Dart’s buildings from others was his use of Chicago common brick, whether it was at St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle or here at this 7,000 sq ft modern masterpiece in Lake Forest. Originally built for the Florsheim family in 1963-64, you can see Dart’s love of brick in the the simple interior’s walls and floors. Original details include custom built-in cabinetry and furniture, kitchen and bathrooms, a custom-designed arched wooden front door, a Dart-designed chandelier in the dining room, and a full wet-bar. But this property will cost you! At almost $4 million, the 17-arce compound includes a pool, pool house, studio, caretaker’s cottage, barn, paddocks, pond, and woods right next to a 100+ acre forest preserve. On the market for the first time, one can hope this property finds the right owner who will preserve Dart’s legacy, unlike a Dart-designed home in Glencoe that was torn down in 2018.
A contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School, architect George W. Maher was known for creating homes like Oak Park’s Pleasant Home. As he designer, Maher developed what he called Motif-Rhythm theory, in which he repeated a decorative element, usually something from nature, throughout the building and its interior. That is evident here at the 1907 Emil Rudolph residence, also called the “Tulip House,” where the simplified, yet harmonious space is filled with original art glass windows and doors, handcrafted staircase, quarter-sawn oak cabinetry and built-ins, and a beautiful mosaic over the main fireplace. If the stunning architectural design wasn’t enough for you, the home is located on nearly an acre at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac just a block from Lake Michigan. What’s not to love?
One of Chicago’s most influential modernist architects, I.W. “Ike” Colburn created noteworthy designs for wealthy clients, mainly in Lake Forest, including his own that locals called the “Swiss Cheese House.” On nearly five acres, a Japanese-inspired home in Riverwoods built for John Kittermaster in 1963 is available for the first time in forty years (although the sale is now pending). Colburn sited the home on a raised terrace to take advantage of the natural surroundings. Entering the home through a walkway, you will find walls of glass along with pickled pine wood ceilings, helping connect the interior with the outdoors.There is an expansive Merrimac terrace with built-in seat railings as well as a deck and patio where you’ll notice an interesting architectural detail. Colburn’s trademark was to mix formal symmetry within a modernist design, which you can see here with the floating copper cylinders that wrap around the structural supports of the home. Other cool features include the original sliding shoji screens, a three-season sun room, and a large indoor pool. Who wouldn’t love the combination of a unique piece of architecture and a peaceful oasis right near the Des Plaines River?
It’s hard to escape Frank Lloyd Wright’s name in Chicagoland. Yet a lot people don’t know two of his sons were architects, probably due to the fact that most of their work is found outside of Illinois. In Grayslake of all places is a star-shaped, hilltop home on over 30 acres purportedly designed by his oldest son, Lloyd Wright Jr., in 1952. Secluded and private with lake views, this modern design has everything you’d expect in what Wright referred to as organic architecture with its floor-ceiling windows helping bring the outside in and the use of natural stone materials. Did I mention there are both outdoor *and* indoor waterfalls? Now that’s really taking “the outside in” to the extreme. Well, Wright himself did it at Fallingwater so no surprise his son would do the same. On and off the market for the last five years, this nearly $2 million home is now under contingency.
Best known for the original Playboy mansion in Chicago’s Gold Coast, James Gamble Rogers was also the architect behind a number of Gothic Revival academic buildings, including Northwestern’s own Deering Library. So it’s no surprise this English manor home, built in 1926, looks like it would fit right in with any historic college campus. Except it’s located on two acres (on what was originally a much larger estate owned by the Peters family) overlooking a ravine east of Sheridan Road in Lake Forest. The gothic influence is apparent with the home’s stone and brick exterior and slate roof, while the inside features beautiful millwork, a grand stone fireplace, and leaded glass windows and doors. Did I mention the lower level has a cozy area with stone fireplace as well as an all-brick wine cellar? Sounds like my kind of place!