Half-forgotten Frank Lloyd Wright house in West Pullman sells after 3 years on market

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

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Stephen Wright House – Paw Paw, Illinois

Before we get to the Reagan landmarks in Dixon we stop in Paw Paw, Illinois, a small village many of you Illinois residents have probably passed on Interstate 39, you know you are there when you see the large electricity generating windmills on the horizon. Before 2005 the 850 person village of Paw Paw had no properties included on the federal National Register of Historic Places. The listing of the Stephen Wright House changed that in May of that year.

After mingling amongst the windmills of the Mendota Hills Wind Farm for a bit, I made my way over to the village proper and sought out the Wright House. The house was constructed sometime between 1895 and 1906 by Paw Paw native, and real estate speculator Stephen Wright.

The home is an excellent example of Queen Anne style architecture. It very clearly illustrates the hip roof (wiki) with flanking cross gables (wiki) that is found on about 50 percent of Queen Anne style houses. The roof style is a quick way to identify many less obvious examples of Queen Anne. Viewed from the cross gables, the hip roof is less obvious, making for an interesting visual play, depending on where the viewer stands.

Tomorrow we visit our first Reagan landmark in Dixon. Paw Paw is a village in Lee County, located in northern Illinois. Norther Illinois is full of interesting places listed in the National Register of Historic Places and well worth the look for any history student or buff. Feel free to Google it and have a look for yourself.

Online Resources

Stephen Wright House: National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form (PDF)

Wikipedia: Stephen Wright House, Mendota Hills Wind Farm (both by me, for you).

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