A historic Far South Side home designed by world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright was sold earlier this month for less than $200,000 after spending more than three years on the market.
James Glover, a Chicago native, wasn’t necessarily looking to buy a house when he stumbled on the iconic West Pullman property while watching TV one Sunday afternoon.
Glover said he was recently forced to sell his Gold Coast condo due to a change in property ownership but had another place to stay for the time being. The electrician was drawn to the large lot and low price point.
Sitting on nearly a half acre of land, the 120-year-old faded yellow home, known as the Foster House and Stable, located at 12147 S. Harvard Ave., features steep roof peaks — something that wasn’t necessarily common in Wright’s designs — and has five bedrooms and three bathrooms. Its immense yard is like a grassy oasis, with two coy ponds and a water fountain, Glover said.
The home, which has a Japanese-influenced style to it, was “an important part of the development of Wright’s influential architectural style,” according to the Chicago Landmarks website. The home and its stable was originally built in 1900 as a summer home for Stephen Foster, a real estate attorney who worked with developers around the West Pullman neighborhood, the website said. The stable has since been converted into a three-car garage, Glover said.
In 1996, the property was declared a Chicago landmark, and it’s one of more than 40 Wright-designed buildings that remain in the Chicagoland area today, according to the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.
Over the last several years, the property lost some of its beauty. The paint is chipping and the yard is filled with five-foot-tall weeds and matted grass, Glover said.
He described the property as a “fixer-upper” and hopes to restore the place to its original beauty.
“I have a friend, his name is Ward Miller … he’s an executive director of Preservation Chicago, he said that this house is like a Picasso or a Rembrandt [painting], and you have to be a conservator of the house, which is what I intend to do,” said Glover, 60.
Glover said he hopes to cash in on some of the funding from the city that’s available for preserving landmarks. He plans to replace the roof with a steel one and wants to repaint the exterior. In the future, he would also like to remove the carpet.
For now, though, he said he’s tirelessly working to get the yard in shape before the cold weather hits.
The home was originally listed in April 2017 for $239,900 — just $100 less than what it was purchased for in 2005, according to Zillow. Over the last 3 1⁄2 years, the listing has had at least seven price changes, with the most recent one being $145,000, according to Zillow.
Glover didn’t want to disclose the exact amount he paid, but said it was under $200,000. He plans to live in the home with his 82-year-old mother.
“It’s hard to touch a Frank [Lloyd] Wright for less than about a million,” said Glover, who noted a Wright-designed home in Phoenix that recently sold for a reported $7.25 million. “So I feel like we got lucky on this one.”