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In River Forest, a historic Prairie School social club turned home returns for $600K

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Notable architect William E. Drummond designed the structure in 1913

A large Prairie School building with brown wood panelling on the exterior and broad, flat overhanging eaves.
The historic property stands on a double-wide lot at 526 Ashland Ave in River Forest, Illinois.
Photos by Next Level Productions, courtesy Suzanne Treudt of Realty Executives Premiere

A historic social club renovated into a one-of-a-kind single-family residence in suburban River Forest, Illinois, is back on the market for $600,000 following foreclosure. The 3,500-square-foot Prairie School structure was designed by William E. Drummond—a notable early 20th-century architect who started his career working as a draftsman under Louis Sullivan, Dankmar Adler, Daniel Burnham, and Frank Lloyd Wright—in 1913 as the River Forest Women’s Club.

The property sat empty for years before it was meticulously restored by previous owners Paul and Ellen Coffey, who purchased the building in 2005 and turned it into a private residence. It hit the market back in 2012 with an asking price of $1.575 million, but never found a buyer. The home went into foreclosure late last year, Crain’s reported at the time.

Suzanne Treudt, the listing agent for the bank-owned property, tells Curbed Chicago that she isn’t in contact with the Coffeys, but she can appreciate the effort that went into the historic home’s restoration. “I love the idea of what the previous owners did with this unique property,” says Treudt. “They put a lot of heart—and funds—into preserving it.”

Many aspects of the former social club appear as they did in 1913: the original woodwork, leaded-glass windows, and a double-height auditorium space are all still intact. Recent upgrades include the addition of four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a commercial-grade kitchen, and high-tech (albeit currently malfunctioning) HVAC and water heater systems that use solar and geothermal energy.

Because bank-owned foreclosures don’t splurge on staging, it can be difficult to picture such a large space as a residence without seeing any furniture for reference. But Treudt feels optimistic that the home will attract a very particular type of buyer. “I think it will take someone with some vision who can appreciate a historic but nontraditional home,” she says. “Someone with a real eye for the details.”

In the meantime, Drummond’s creation at 526 Ashland Avenue isn’t in any danger of disappearing. The 107-year-old structure falls under a Landmark of Illinois easement that protects it from demolition. The designation also places some additional limitations and red tape on any future changes, which could dissuade some prospective buyers.

A two-story room with wood floors and panels on the walls. The upper portions are painted earth tones and lined with geometric windows.
The soaring auditorium space—complete with a stage—could make one serious living room.
A wooden staircase with vertical slats and detailed trimwork. There is s striped carpet running up the center.
Everywhere you look, the property is full of original or restored Prairie School details.
A room with a wood ceiling and no furniture. It opens to a sunken outdoor patio.
The home boasts a spacious walk-out lower level.
A large kitchen with white tilework and a massive stainless steel island with a steel hood above a huge ten-burner range.
The restaurant-grade kitchen is more than up to the task of entertaining a big group.
A tiled bathroom with a pedestal sink and a narrow vertical window with wood casings.
The unusual residence has four bathrooms to go along with its four bedrooms.