A threatened Frank Lloyd Wright-designed cottage in suburban Glencoe, Illinois, won’t be torn down after all. Instead, the humble 1913 structure will be moved from its current location at 239 Franklin Road to a public park roughly a quarter-mile away.
Known as the Booth Cottage, the modest 1,700-square-foot residence first served as temporary housing for Wright’s attorney Sherman Booth while the architect completed the larger—and more famous—Booth House. The home was moved once already from the nearby Wright-designed Ravine Bluffs subdivision to its current location just west of Sheridan Road.
The property sold for $555,000 last year, and soon after its owners filed for a demolition permit to tear down the cottage and build a new home in its place. Because the historic structure was only considered an “honorary” Glencoe landmark, local regulations failed to provide any protections beyond a six-month demolition delay.
Luckily for the Booth Cottage and preservationists, the pause allowed time for advocates such as the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, the Glencoe Historical Society, and Landmarks Illinois to shine a spotlight on the threatened building and work out a deal between the owners and local officials.
“The village realized it was getting a lot of press attention and didn’t want to be known as the community that demolished a Frank Lloyd Wright,” Lisa DiChiera, director of advocacy at Landmarks Illinois, tells Curbed Chicago. The organization included the Booth Cottage on its annual list of the state’s most endangered architectural sites and contributed a $2,500 grant to help fund its upcoming relocation.
If demolished as initially planned, the Glencoe property would have been the first Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home to be destroyed since the W.S. Carr House in Grand Beach, Michigan, met its demise in 2004. The most recent loss of a non-residential Wright building was the 2018 demolition of the Lockridge Medical Center in Whitefish, Montana.
The village park district has approved a lease agreement for the Booth Cottage’s new location but is still ironing out details involving future uses and concerns raised by neighbors, DiChiera says. “Moving the house is the first priority, then restoring it. They’ll figure out programming at a later time, but I don’t think anyone thinks it should be a house museum or big tourist destination. But it’s an important piece of Glencoe history that should be saved.”
Advocates hope the saga over the Booth Cottage will prompt Glencoe to reassess its two-tiered historic preservation ordinance, which has failed to protect a number of significant properties.
“Time and again we will be put in this position unless the village puts some teeth behind protecting its architecturally significant homes,” adds DiChiera, who points out that Glencoe recently lost a midcentury Keck and Keck design. “These are not throw-away houses.”
A major hurdle to saving the endangered #franklloydwright Booth Cottage in Glencoe, IL, was crossed this week when the Glencoe Park District Board of Commissioners passed a land lease agreement with the Glencoe Historical Society (GHS). https://t.co/0upRGRVtRC— Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (@SaveWrightFLWBC) January 24, 2020