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U.S. Route 66: Chenoa, Illinois February 20, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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After spending so much time near Chicago I thought it would be nice to return to the downstate calm of Old U.S. Route 66. Just north of the city of Chenoa, Illinois, the historic section of U.S. Route 66 that is listed on the National Register Historic Places ends, but the road continues southward, toward Bloomington. Coming from Pontiac, we first hit Chenoa, in northern McLean County.


Chenoa, Illinois, in northern McLean County

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Heurtley House: Oak Park, Illinois Part 7 February 17, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, Houses, National Historic Landmarks, Prairie style.
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The Arthur Heurtley House is a true architectural gems, besides being one of my favorite Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, it is a distinguished early example of Wright’s mastery of his new Prairie style. The Heurtley House is one of four National Historic Landmarks in Oak Park, Illinois – the others are Pleasant Home, Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, and Unity Temple.

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The 1902 Heurtley House is acknowledged as a critically important work of early modern architecture; one that the National Historic Landmark Program claims is the first fully mature example of Prairie School architecture. As we have seen, many sources dispute this claim, instead crediting the Frank W. Thomas House from one year earlier as the first full Prairie house.

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The emphasis on the Heurtley House is decidedly horizontal, its asymmetical front facade, hipped roof, massive chimney and horizontal character do provide a good comparison point for all things Prairie. Something I am sure could also be done with the Thomas House.

Before February 16, 2000, the Heurtley House was simply a member of the National Register of Historic Places listing for the Frank Lloyd Wright-Prairie School of Architecture Historic District. On that date, the home was declared a National Historic Landmark (NHL) because of its architectural importance. An NHL declaration garners an automatic listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), thus the Heurtley House was individually listed on the NRHP at the same time.

There is more to say about the Heurtley House than you and I have time for here, but if this perks your interest in a house I adore, I suggest checking out the resources below, especially the NHL nomination form and the Illinois Historic Preservation Association (IHPA) Property Information Report.

Online Resources
*Arthur Heurtley House: National Historic Landmark Nomination Form, NHL Summary, IHPA Property Information Report (Photos from 1982-1998 included at bottom)
*Wikipedia: Arthur Heurtley House (by me, for you)

Frank W. Thomas House: Oak Park, Illinois Part 6 February 16, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, Houses, National Register of Historic Places, Prairie style.
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There are two houses in Oak Park which have, at different times, been called the “first fully mature” example of a Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie style house. The first of those homes is the Frank W. Thomas House at 210 Forest Avenue; most sources agree that the Thomas House was the first example.

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1901 – Frank W. Thomas House

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Walter Gale House: Oak Park, Illinois Part 5 February 14, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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The Walter Gale House, in Oak Park, Illinois, was constructed around the time of yesterday’s Bootleg Houses and closely resembles their design. Again, Wright went with a geometric Queen Anne style that, while not unlike traditional styles popular during the 1890s, represented a precursor to the direction he would take a few years later.


1893- Walter Gale House

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Bootleg Houses: Oak Park, Illinois Part 4 February 13, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Between 1892 and 1893 Frank Lloyd Wright designed a series of eight houses, many of them similar in style, in and around Oak Park, Illinois. The popular tale says that Wright, then under contract with Louis Sullivan, was forbidden, by his contract, to “moonlight” and do independent designs. That tale is contradicted in Thomas Heinz’s 2006 book, “The Vision of Frank Lloyd Wright”. Heinz says that Wright was not forbidden to do independent work, and that Sullivan would have encouraged it because Wright owed him money. Heinz says Wright left Adler and Sullivan on his own terms, amidst an economic downturn.

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Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio: Oak Park, Illinois Part 3 February 12, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, Houses, National Historic Landmarks.
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Making our way from Unity Temple we come to a neighborhood off Chicago Avenue that is dominated by architectural marvels. Sprinkled throughout a smattering of Queen Anne and Italianate homes are several of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie masterpieces. Before you get to those, though, you notice a sprawling Shingle Style house (Shingle style is basically a classification of Queen Anne style) that appears to have been built at different times. The large brown house is known as the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and it was the location of his early 20th century Oak Park firm.


1889 – Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio

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Pleasant Home: Oak Park, Illinois February 10, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Historic Landmarks, Prairie style.
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The last few days have been a breather, stopping here in DeKalb County. A short drive toward Chicago, though, and we are in, perhaps the most architecturally significant village in the United States, Oak Park, Illinois. Oak Park is home to dozens of residential works by Frank Lloyd Wright, and other Prairie Style masters. But before we dive knee deep into Wright we must stop over and see an architect we talked about the other day, George W. Maher.


1897 – John C. Farson House (aka Pleasant Home) (rear view)
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Adolphus W. Brower House: Sycamore, Illinois Part 6 February 7, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Weary from our journey we return to Sycamore suffering from a case of Republican-icon-overload. Breathe, sigh, we’re back and will be soothed. Soothed by picture perfect Italianate style. At 705 DeKalb Avenue in Sycamore is a high-style example of Italianate in the Adolphus W. Brower House.


1874 – Adolphus W. Brower House

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Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home: Dixon, Illinois Part 2 February 4, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Ronald Reagan grew up and went to high school in Dixon, Illinois. His family lived in a house on Hennepin Avenue (now Reagan Way) that gained federal recognition, first as a listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, and then as a National Historic Site in 2002. While the building has been declared a National Historic Site, ownership has not been handed over to the National Park Service, a necessary step in its evolution to the new status. You will soon know why.


Plaque at Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home

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Lowell Park: Dixon, Illinois February 3, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Lots of people know that Ronald Reagan grew up in Dixon, Illinois. His boyhood home is part of a declared National Historic Site (more on that tomorrow). Some people know the tales of Reagan saving 77 people from drowning while working as a lifeguard. Fewer probably know where he worked as a lifeguard at, and fewer still know anything about the place. At least that’s my take. Today I share with you Lowell Park in Dixon, Illinois.


National Register plaque, Lowell Park

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Stephen Wright House: Paw Paw, Illinois February 2, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Before we get to the Reagan landmarks in Dixon we stop in Paw Paw, Illinois, a small village many of you have probably passed on Interstate 39, you know you are there when you see the windmills on the horizon. Before 2005 the 850 person village of Paw Paw had no properties included on the federal National Register of Historic Places. The listing of the Stephen Wright House changed that in May of that year.


When the windmills appear, Paw Paw is near

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Carlos Lattin House: Sycamore, Illinois Part 5 February 1, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Carlos Lattin was the first permanent settler in the DeKalb county seat of Sycamore, Illinois. Lattin arrived in Sycamore in 1835 and constructed a log cabin near the site of present-day downtown Sycamore, just north of Downtown Shoes, at 307 S. State St. (Illinois 64). The site is marked by a plaque at that address.


Plaque marking spot of Sycamore’s first cabin

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J.H. Rogers, Four Square and the Bettis House: Sycamore, Illinois Part 4 January 28, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places, Prairie style.
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Next door to yesterday’s David Syme House is the J.H. Rogers House, a peculiar blend of Queen Anne and Romanesque Revival styles. It has the obvious turret of a Queen Anne home while also having prominent Romanesque arches. The home was built in 1890 for Rogers, a respected dry goods merchant who settled in Sycamore in 1858.


1890 J.H. Rogers House

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David Syme House: Sycamore, Illinois Part 3 January 27, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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If you find yourself in Sycamore, Illinois with nothing to do, more specifically if you find yourself in the 800 block of Somonauk Street in Sycamore, undoubtedly viewing the Chauncey Ellwood House and Esther Mae Nesbitt House, you could walk south. Walk until you hit the 400 block. At 420 Somonauk is the stately David Syme House. It’s a Queen Anne style home that is part of a group known as “painted ladies” (wiki-not the greatest but good enough).


Circa 1880 David Syme House

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Esther Mae Nesbitt House: Sycamore, Illinois Part 2 January 26, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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You don’t have to travel far from the Chauncey Ellwood House in Sycamore, Illinois to locate the subject of this post, it’s right next door, at 825 Somonauk Street. The Esther Mae Nesbitt House, another member of the Sycamore Historic District, has its origins back in 1837, as a carriage house for the subject of yesterday’s post, the Chauncey Ellwood House.


1837 Esther Mae Nesbitt House

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Chauncey Ellwood House: Sycamore, Illinois January 25, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Coming back, closer to home (at least for me), we travel into the frigid cold in the small city of Sycamore, the county seat of DeKalb County, Illinois. Sycamore is a quaint town, very nice, about 14,000 people reside there and it has an extensive historic district, known simply as the Sycamore Historic District. The area is especially pleasing in the deep of winter when several inches of fresh snow are on the ground. The historic district includes the downtown business strip on Route 64 and key residential structures north and south of downtown, over 200 properties in all. While there are several large, ornate government buildings, including a courthouse and a library, the real gems are the houses.


1859 Chauncey Ellwood House

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Librarians and houses: Polo, Illinois January 22, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places, Prairie style.
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Polo, Illinois is a small city of about 2,500 in Ogle County, a county whose largest settlement has less than 10,000 people. The rural communities in Ogle County are astounding and filled with history, art and architecture, if you know where to look. Armed with a list of sites in Polo from the National Register of Historic Places, I started looking at the Polo Public Library – a building that is one of five in Polo that share that status.


Buffalo Township Public Library (aka Polo Public Library)

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A.O. Anderson House: DeKalb, Illinois January 21, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, Prairie style.
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DeKalb has several prominent historic homes but the Anderson House may be one of the least known. The Anderson House is part of a local historic district but doesn’t have federal recognition on the National Register yet, I am hoping to alleviate this. The house is commonly mistaken for a Frank Lloyd Wright work, but it’s not.

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Lampert-Wildflower House: Belvidere, Illinois Part 4 January 20, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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The 1838 Lampert-Wildflower House in Belvidere, Illinois, while not as architecturally impressive as, say, Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, is still a fine example of the building style known as “upright and wing“. The fairly common style refers to the nature of the building, which consists of a 2 story “upright” section and wing, or “ell” (wiki). The upright portion of this house was 1838 original, the ell was added during the 1860s.

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Keeley Institute: Dwight, Illinois Part 3 January 17, 2008

Posted by dr. gonzo in Architecture, History, Houses, National Register of Historic Places.
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Dwight has an interesting history, if you take the time to do the research about it. But don’t worry, you don’t have to, I did it for you (and luckily compiled most of it on Wikipedia which will be linked to gratuitously throughout this posts.

Dwight has been called America’s first therapeutic community, because of Dr. Leslie Keeley and John R. Oughton and their famed Keeley Institute. The Keeley Cure (wiki by me, thoroughly researched like all I do, yet not completely finished) was globally famous as a “scientific” treatment for alcoholism, groundbreaking at the time, and more than a bit odd in hindsight. The Keeley Cure involved “bichloride of gold”, and the jury is still out on what, exactly, that was. There are a few buildings associated with the Keeley Institute still extant in Dwight, among them, the John R. Oughton House (wiki by me), which served as housing for Keeley Institute patients.


The Oughton Estate’s restored windmill is owned by the Village of Dwight.

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