Local Travel

The Wright Plus Housewalk, 2015

The Wright Plus Housewalk took place this past Saturday, featuring historic homes here in Oak Park and also in nearby Riverside, IL. The three Frank Lloyd Wright homes on the tour have been maintained and decorated in the Wright style, which is probably as it should be, and the other homes were a mix of modern and traditional.

The Avery Coonley House and Avery Coonley Stables/Coach House

Avery Coonley Estate, Frank Lloyd Wright, Riverside, IL
Coonley Stables Coach House, Frank Lloyd Wright, Riverside, IL
Frank Lloyd Wright, 1908 and 1911, Riverside, IL

The estate has several properties on it, and it’s the grand house with the lily pond that is currently for sale with a listing price of $2.1 million. Wright said that at the time the Coonley estate was built (supposedly with a nearly unlimited budget), that it was the finest house he was capable of creating. The stable is nothing to turn your nose up though — those horses were living large, and of course there were renovations undertaken to turn it into a home fit for humans.

The Oscar B. Balch House

Oscar Balch House, Frank Lloyd Wright, Oak Park, IL
Frank Lloyd Wright, 1911, Oak Park, IL

Balch (no relation!) was a decorator, and one of the only people to hire Wright upon his return to the States after having ran off with a client’s wife. He collected and helped popularize Teco pottery, and it seems fitting that the current owners display their own extensive collection of it throughout the house.

The Mary Walker Herron House

Mary Walker Herron House, Oak Park, IL
Tallmadge & Watson, 1924, Oak Park, IL

This house started its life as a Victorian in the 1880s, was completely remodeled and reworked as a Tudor by Tallmadge & Watson in 1924 (who won out over a competing remodeling bid by Wright), and has gone through another transformation inside by the current owners with modern stark white walls and trim, dark flooring, and mid-century modern furniture. Very now.

The Hemingway House

Hemmingway's Boyhood Home, Oak Park, IL
Fiddelke, 1906, Oak Park, IL
Hemingway’s birth house is in town too, but this was his boyhood home, where he likely formed the opinion that “Oak Park is a neighborhood of wide lawns and narrow minds.” I’d like to think that the latter characteristic has changed some in the years since he lived here. The home was designed with great input from Hemmingway’s mother, and has recently been brought back to a single-family dwelling after having been split into a three-flat since the 1930s. We got to head all the way to the third floor to see Hemingway’s old bedroom.

The Paul Blatchford House I

Paul Blatchford House, Oak Park, IL
Architect Unknown, 1887, Oak Park, IL

The porch features a keyhole opening which is not original, but was recreated based on photographs of the original design. The bones of the home were very similar to my own — same unpainted oak trim throughout, tall windows with wooden shutters, Victorian hardware, and so on. The owners kept it to a traditional Victorian look though (as opposed to what I’ve been doing with my 1891 home), choosing historical paint colors, wall treatments, and furnishings.

* Interior photography was not allowed. All exterior photos in this post were from the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.

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  • Erin
    May 19, 2015 at 6:49 am

    I would love to go on one of these tours. Do you have a favorite house?

    • Making it Lovely
      May 19, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      I think my style aligned most with the Hemingway house, but I don’t know that I had a clear favorite. The Frank Lloyd Wright homes are so beautiful, but like living in a museum where you can’t touch or change anything. The Mary Walker Herron house was cool — so much more modern than I would want to live with, but obviously it works for them and it looked amazing.

  • Corrin
    May 19, 2015 at 9:04 am

    The Balch house is everything. I used to drive by it everytime I was in the area.

  • The Office Stylist
    May 19, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    These houses are absolutely gorgeous! Love the mid-century modern look of the third home. Can’t get over all those windows either.

    The Office Stylist

  • Michelle
    May 19, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Very cool post. I enjoyed it.

  • Jacky
    May 19, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    I’ve always wanted to do this house walk. Are there 3 Hemingway homes in OP? I though his boyhood home was the Victorian, and the birth home the one that got moved. I’ve never seen the one you posted.

  • Caroline
    May 20, 2015 at 10:03 am

    A breath of fresh Frank Lloyd Wright air from all the sponsored posts! So enjoyed this! I wish I could see the interiors and how the residents live in these historic spaces. I like seeing what caught your eye as well. Did you go into the homes? Were photos not allowed? Off to google the interiors of these homes!

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  • heather
    May 20, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    I interned at the Home & Studio archives one summer (commuting from Milwaukee), so often took walks during my lunch break. I loved walking by all the gorgeous homes (and dreaming of their interiors) on my way to shop for ice cream or paper. :-) I was lucky to be in the home & studio every day but never got into the other houses in the neighborhood.