The suburb made famous by Frank Lloyd Wright boast some of his houses, and one of his great public works, Unity Temple, neighbored by the sort of big, old Old World-style houses that defined high-end American architecture before Wright gave us our own style. They’re still pretty great, though.
So, yeah, it’s a great architectural town. And it’s walkable, and it has good schools, and it’s green, and it has a store that only sells CDs when all the cool kids are buying vinyl. And… it’s pretty affordable. You can certainly buy a lot of house there, but you can also buy not as much and it’ll be a good house, too. Perhaps because it has a reputation as a good place to buy a house, the condos are more affordable still, and just as handsome.
Own your own penthouse for just over two bills! It’s a third-floor penthouse, granted, but it’s big (1,627 square feet with three beds and two absolutely wonderful period pastel bathrooms and a real dining room) simultaneously nicely preserved and tastefully updated, and it overlooks Columbus Park. Imagine a handsome old Victorian house cut down to just generously sized essentials, and the price reflects that, with reasonable HOA fees for the size of $385 a month that include a parking space.
This dignified 1904 American Foursquare is on the market for the first time in 50 years, and it looks it, mostly for the better. There’s work to be done, but the details that make it special remain: the stained glass, the woodwork in the entryway and staircase, the stout fireplace and cozy built-in nook, the patina on the built-in floors. Even the midcentury kitchen stove fits in comfortably and looks like new. Not a lot has been done to it since the last time it was sold, and hopefully whoever buys it will resist the urge to do much.
A little less plainspoken than a Foursquare but not as busy as a Victorian is a good old Georgian Revival, and this is a beauty: Bishops Hall in the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District. It’s been thoroughly renovated but with carefully chosen throwback details, like the toile wallpaper in the study and kitchen and the slate roof. The first two floors maintain the gracious modern-vintage look with a carefully chosen soft color scheme; if you need to let your hair down, there’s an open-plan nook on the third floor that’s more stripped-down and contemporary.
Architect Frederick Schock was active in Austin before it was part of Chicago, designing what are now some of the city’s finest houses, including his own oddball Queen Anne at 5804 West Midway Park. This Italian Renaissance Revival is more conservative, and it fits in nicely in the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District, including among the master’s own work (the 1888 house he designed for his mother may have influenced Wright’s own studio). Gorgeous woodwork covers this home’s 6,000 square feet of living area, which features three wood-burning fireplaces—one of which, mirroring the archway entrance, overlooks the in-ground pool in the backyard, while another serves the centerpiece of the sunroom.
This 2005 house marries old and new: very Prairie Style, very 2005. Whether it clicks with you depends on how much you like the pyramidal second floor, which encompasses a massive open-plan great room with the kitchen, dining area, living room, and 180-degree fireplace, as well as a bedrooms. If FLW got in on the big 2000s loft craze, it might look like this.