Frank Lloyd Wright’s George Blossom House is really in terrible condition, but it could soon receive the restoration it so badly needs. Similar to other Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the area, the Blossom House has fallen into disrepair over the years, and thus became a tough sell due to the amount of time and resources required to rehab the Prairie style home. Coincidentally enough, two neighboring Wright bootleg homes went up for sale around the same time two years ago – the Warren McArthur and George Blossom homes in the Kenwood neighborhood. A year later, billionaire philanthropist Jennifer Pritzker expressed interest in scooping up the homes and convert them both into bed and breakfasts. Pritzker has long had an interest in Wright’s work and has recently wrapped up the restoration of one famous Wright home and reopened it as a vacation rental. However, just weeks after announcing the idea of converting the South Side homes into B&Bs, neighboring residents and Alderman Will Burns rejected Pritzker’s plan.
Both of the Kenwood homes need a tremendous amount of work to be restored, and Pritzker’s pockets are certainly more than deep enough to have ensured that the historic homes would receive the attention they so desperately need. According to a report last year from DNAinfo, an architect had indicated that each home would require at a minimum $2.5 million to be restored. After nixing Pritzker’s plan, Kenwood residents held a meeting to discuss the uncertain future of the homes, but were unable to come up with an alternative plan.=
However, the home is now under contract. When it was first listed in October 2012, the home’s asking price was just under $1.5 million. When Pritzker announced her interest in buying the home, its ask had fallen down to $850,000. Of course there’s still a chance the deal could fall through, and the home would then end up back up on the market, again with an uncertain future. The neighboring Warren McArthur House found a buyer earlier this summer.
In the real estate world, there really is no clear good guy or bad guy, but when it comes to preservation battles, generally developers and city bureaucrats are viewed as the wrongdoers. It’s easy enough for community groups to view developers as emotionless, money-hungry entities that are seeking to erase their neighborhood’s history and character away and replace it with beige suburban-esque shopping centers with city officials acting as their passive rubber-stamping counterparts. Property owners and developers tear down historic buildings all the time. However, what happens when a community group inadvertently participates in the devastation of one of its most valuable pieces of architectural history? Seems like a completely unlikely scenario, right? The moral of the story is, preservation and neighborhood identity is of supreme importance to Chicagoans, however communities should not allow their crusade against developers to negatively affect and endanger one of their most important cultural gems. Hopefully this Wright home is saved from its pending doom, but it could have already been well on its way to a certain and secure future by now.
·4858 S Kenwood Ave. Chicago, IL 60615 [Redfin]
·Jennifer Pritzker Would Make B&B’s of Kenwood Wright Homes [Curbed Chicago]
· Two Bootleg Wright Homes List For $1.48M Apiece in Kenwood [Curbed Chicago]
·Previous coverage of Frank Lloyd Wright homes [Curbed Chicago]