A VIRTUAL TOUR AND RESTORATION UPDATE OF A CHICAGO WRIGHT GEM
Dave Arland recently wrote and said he so enjoyed touring the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Emil Bach House during the 2013 Open House Chicago weekend that he wanted to share some photos and thoughts with PrairieMod readers. So Dave was kind enough to send a short update and a series of photos to give us all a virtual tour of this beautiful little architectural gem.
With a “spare no expense” multi-year restoration nearly complete, the 1915 Emil Bach House in the northern Chicago neighborhood of Rogers Park was open over “Open House Chicago” weekend. More than 150 buildings across Chicago were open during the weekend event.
The Bach House was Wright’s last Prairie-era Chicago commission, built during World War I by the owner of the Bach Brick Company (although not itself built of Bach bricks.)
We were spending the weekend in Chicago, and decided to get up early and be among the first line on Saturday morning to see this rarely opened Prairie-period treasure (after my wife and I learned about the tour from PrairieMod.)
The house has been on the National Register of Historic Places for more than 30 years and had a succession of owners and restoration attempts through the years until being purchased by Chicago preservationist Jennifer Pritzker and her Tawani Enterprises (which maintains an illuminating blog about the house’s restoration)
Although very close to the lakefront when it was built, there’s just a sliver of water visible down an alley now that apartment buildings have gone up between the Bach House and Lake Michigan.
A neighborhood controversy is brewing about plans to tear down another less historic home to build a parking garage for the Bach House and other nearby properties, since the owners are planning to open the house for “intimate weddings, civil unions, holiday parties” and the like. The house already has a website, even though it won’t be ready for overnight stays or events until next year.
The house has been meticulously and beautifully restored, with walnut trim throughout (supposedly harvested from a single walnut tree) and an updated kitchen with marble countertops and period-inspired cabinetry. The upstairs features two bedrooms and a bathroom created (by a previous owner) from the small maid’s room.
Built for $10,650 in 1915 -- the equivalent of a quarter million dollars in today’s dollars -- the meticulous restoration by Harboe Architects has yielded impressive results. A surviving art glass window is being used to guide recreations, and the unique dining table that wraps around the brick fireplace has been reconstructed.
Thanks Dave! Looks like it was a wonderful experience seeing a wonderful work of architecture. I can't wait to visit this restored Wright-design in the very near future! pm
All photos copyright Dave Arland
Eric O'Malley is a co-founder and contributor to PrairieMod. He lives with his wife in the Little Red House, a Mid-Century Modern ranch in suburban Chicago. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.