Wright or Wrong?

Frank Lloyd Wright cabin outside of Chicago faces demolition

The front entrance to the Booth Cottage in Glencoe, Illinois (Courtesy Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy/Landmarks Illinois)

For the second time in less than two years, a Frank Lloyd Wright–designed building is facing the wrecking ball.

This time, the owners of the Wright-designed Booth Cottage in Glencoe, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, filed for a demolition permit, according to the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (FLWBC).

The 1,755-square-foot cottage at 239 Franklin Road was originally built for attorney Sherman Booth in 1913 as a temporary home, while Booth helped develop the nearby Wright-designed Ravine Bluffs neighborhood in 1915—which included Booth’s permanent home.

As the Chicago Tribune reported, 239 Franklin LLC purchased the modest, single-story, three-bedroom cottage in mid-May for $550,000, almost half of what was originally asked when the home went on the market in October 2017. The building sits on a much larger plot of land, and the FLWBC wrote that it expected the new owner wants to demolish the cottage so that they can build a larger home on the site.

As the Tribune noted, while the Booth Cottage may seem unassuming, it bears Wright’s signature leaded windows and provided a template for the low-cost Usonian and model homes later in his career.

The demolition permit application is reportedly incomplete at the time of writing, but once finished, there will likely be a 180-day review period triggered by the home’s historic status. While the home was declared a local landmark in 1996 by the Village of Glencoe, that doesn’t afford any protection against its demolition.

If the cottage is torn down, it would follow the loss of the Lockridge Medical Clinic building in Whitefish, Montana, which was razed in January of last year for a three-story mixed-use complex. The loss of the Booth Cottage would also represent the first demolition of a Wright-designed residential building since 2004, when the W.S. Carr cottage in Grand Beach, Michigan, was torn down.

On May 1, the nonprofit Landmarks Illinois had listed the Booth Cottage on their 2019 list of most endangered historic places in Illinois.

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