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Remarkable midcentury glass house south of Chicago returns for $749K

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Designed by a Mies van der Rohe disciple Harry “Deever” Rockwell, the home is surprisingly practical

20841 Oak Lane Drive, Olympia Fields IL.
Photos by VHT Studios, courtesy of Baird & Warner,

A gorgeous midcentury glass home by notable modernist architect Harry “Deever” Rockwell is up for grabs just south of Chicago. Rockwell, who studied under the legendary Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at IIT, designed the minimalist four-bedroom structure as his own family residence in suburban Olympia Fields in 1964.

While its strong resemblance to his famous teacher’s Farnsworth House is arguably reason enough to fall in love with Rockwell’s creation, the home is also surprisingly roomy. “Unlike other famous minimalist glass houses that have become museums, this property is fully functional as family home,” Joe Kunkel, listing agent with Baird & Warner, told Curbed Chicago.

Rockwell’s design achieves its remarkable degree of practicality thanks to a spacious lower level that houses the home’s secondary bedrooms, bathrooms, workshop, TV room, laundry room, and mechanical closets. The current owners created more privacy and living space by moving the master suite from its original location behind curtains on the the main level to two combined bedrooms on its lower floor. A lounge area was staged in its place.

The lower rooms overlook a large ravine fronting Butterfield Creek at the rear of its wooded 2.5-acre lot—a feature that has given the home the appropriate nickname of the “House on a Bluff” when it won an AIA award in 1965. The property embraces nature through its glass walls as well as the use of the same Eau Claire River-sourced Wisconsin gravel as the aggregate in its supporting concrete columns, vehicular motorcourt, and polished terrazzo flooring.

Last sold in 2016 for $605,000, the home has received recent upgrades such as a new HVAC system, a refreshed kitchen and master bath, and a darker, more contemporary stain applied to much of its grooved teak millwork. Other notable features include a heated central drainage system on the roof, a detached garage, and overhead skylights that automatically close when they detect rain.

The home’s current owners Giorgio and Claudine Lostao, an architect and designer, are relocating for a new job opportunity in Washington D.C., so the House on a Bluff is once again available. The modernist masterpiece hit the market earlier this week with an asking price of $749,000.