FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT RIVERFRONT KANKAKEE (IL) HOME BEING CONSIDERED FOR PURCHASE BY HISTORIC ACTIVISTS
Stating that this home pioneered the architect’s Prairie Style, and it is up for sale right now, the non-profit Wright in Kankakee group are facing a June deadline for a $170,000 down payment and have raised $70,000 so far. They are looking for an angel to donate another $100,000.
Located in a historic district along the Kankakee River, about 60 miles south of Chicago, Bradley House has a ground-hugging exterior, dazzling interior spaces and more than 100 of Wright’s iconic art glass windows. The Boca Museum of Art displayed a collection of Wright’s windows several years ago.
Former owners painstakingly restored areas of the house which is now priced at $1.9MM, making it one of the city’s most costly properties. The house was built by the grandson of a Chicago farm-implement manufacturer in 1900, and the town renamed itself Bradley in the manufacturer’s honor. Other owners include a president of the National Audubon Society who converted the stable into a bird-house factory and two US military cooks who transformed the house into the successful Yesteryear restaurant in the 1950’s. It fell on hard times in 1986 and was purchased by the heir to a news media fortune who wanted to retire and run a bed and breakfast at the house, but he came to a bad end at the hands of kidnappers in 1987.
Next it was owned by a group of attorneys who converted it into law offices and in 2005, Gaines and Sharon Hall purchased the property and began restorations at the cost of over $1mm. Among their restorations were the stable, the breezeway that joins it to the house, the living room and arched corridor above that leads to a riverfront sitting room. In 2009 the house was put on the National Register of Historic Places, which is credited to the Halls work.
Barbara Streisand bought the house’s Wright-designed desk in the 1980’s and at a recent Christies sale the above sideboard windows were purchased for $15,000.
The activists want to make the house into a museum. Other Wright homes in the area that draw tourists include Wright’s home and studio in Oak Park and his Robie House in Chicago’s Hyde Park area and there is concern that, as a museum, the house will not draw enough visitors to cover maintenance costs. Guestimate is that, as a house museum and arts education center, $600-700,000 could be generated annually. Some say portions of the house could be rented out for offices for another income stream.
Perhaps this historic home will find it’s rightful place in history in the very near future.