Chicagoland is no stranger to Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie house repertoire. From his first residential commission to the famed Robie House, Chicago and its suburbs are teeming with some of the architect’s most influential designs. Due to their historical significance, these houses must be kept in tip-top shape for the numerous architectural enthusiasts who trek to Chi-town to see their horizontal lines and hipped roofs.
One of FLW’s landmarks, the Emil Bach house, underwent a dramatic two-year facelift to restore the house back to its original appearance. And, after all the bandages have come off, we have to say, this near-century-old home is looking absolutely fresh-faced. Built in 1915, the house in Chicago’s Rogers Park is a classic example of Wright’s late Prairie style. After purchasing the Emil Bach house in 2009, Jennifer Pritzker — heir to the Pritzker Prize dynasty — enlisted Harboe Architects to spruce up the aging structure.
Architects at Harboe are essentially experts in touching up Wright’s storied buildings, including the Beth Sholom Synagogue, Chicago’s Unity Temple, the Robie House, and even Wright’s own Taliesin West. When they began restoration work in late 2012, the architects said the house was in “pretty good shape,” according to Curbed. Previous renovations had removed most of the interior surfaces, portions of the exterior stucco, and wood trellises.
The architects faced the challenges of finding a proper match for the home’s textured brick, while finding the appropriate colors of glass panes for the art glass windows. However, the architects lived up to the challenge, as the warm wooden moldings, hardwood floors, and furniture look more inviting than ever.
Of course, the exceptional restoration starts with FLW’s striking early design. The Emil Bach house was thought of as a country house within the city, featuring prominent views of Lake Michigan. The compact house is composed of a series of cubic masses and low-lying slab roofs. Of Wright’s houses that feature these forms, the Emil Bach is the only one left standing today. Like many Prairie-style houses, the Emil Bach appears closed off from the street to increase privacy.
If you’re looking to take in some of this privacy while visiting Chicago, you’ll have the chance to stay overnight at the Emil Bach House, which will be available to rent as a vacation home or event space following the renovation completion.