First Wright Housewalk Since 1993
GHS Hosts First Wright Housewalk Since ’93
Reprinted from the September 21, 2015 Glencoe Anchor
by Danielle Gensburg
For the first time in 22 years, the Glencoe Historical Society hosted a curated walking tour of the Ravine Bluffs subdivision, the third largest collection of homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the world that were commissioned by his good friend, attorney and Glencoe resident Sherman Booth, as part of its yearlong celebration of the development’s centennial anniversary.
The two-hour long house walk, which lasted all-day from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 21, and allowed guests to walk around in any way they liked, included 12 stops, among which were the Glasner and Brigham houses, two homes designed by Wright along Sheridan Road, the Booth Cottage, a bungalow-style house that Wright designed for Booth and his family to live in temporarily until their permanent home was completed in 1916, the Booth estate, Booth’s permanent home, and the Perry, Root, Kier, Ross and Kissam houses, the five Prairie-style homes Wright created for the Ravine Bluffs subdivision.
Also featured on the tour were the Sylvan Road Bridge, one of the two freestanding bridges designed by Wright that served as an entryway to the Ravine Bluffs development, and a brand new exhibit at the Glencoe Historical Society Museum on Wright.
The tour explained the story behind each house and the Ravine Bluffs subdivision as a whole. Trolleys ran throughout the day, making scheduled stops at Ravine Bluffs, the Glasner and Brigham homes on Sheridan Road, the GHS museum, and the commuter parking lots at the Glencoe Metra station, near the check-in.
“Glencoe has a rich architectural heritage and the Glencoe Historical Society is honored to help celebrate and educate and share that heritage with the whole community,” GHS Treasurer Adam Steinback said.
Some of the current homeowners of the Wright houses agreed to participate in the housewalk on Sunday. Included was Tina Colada, who has lived in the Booth cottage since her father, Meyer Rudoff, first bought the home in 1956. Rudoff was an architect himself, working for the firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill before opening up his own practice. He was a professor of architecture at Harper College and a big fan of Wright’s.
“My favorite part about the house is that it’s set way back and there’s a lot of privacy. It’s very simple yet elegant, and I think Wright had a lot of personality,” Colada said.
Colada said her mother had met Wright while working in New York and that she has enjoyed meeting all the Wright enthusiasts on the tour.
“They’re interested in everything and they have good taste, and they’re like me in that they want to preserve the homes,” Colada said.
The housewalk was made even more special by the attendance of seven of Sherman Booth’s own descendants, including his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Among those were Mardie Melchin, Sherman Booth’s granddaughter, and her daughter, who traveled all the way from Massachusetts.
“The last time I was here was in 1958, and I remember an awful lot of it [the Booth estate], which is fairly incredible considering how young I was the last time I saw it. There are a few minor changes, but basically the house itself seems remarkably the same and even more beautiful,” Mardie Melchin said.
Melchin said her fondest memory of the house was sitting with her grandmother, Sherman Booth’s wife, Elizabeth, and watching her take things out of drawers and explain where they came from.
“I didn’t know much of this at all, so I’m learning a great deal,” Elizabeth Melchin said. “I’ve never been here before, so I don’t have any memories, but I’m gaining memories. The photographs of my greatgrandmother working with the suffrage movement [really struck me]. There’s a photo of her near the governor of Illinois signing the bill into law, giving women in Illinois the right to vote. There’s also a picture of her holding up a suffrage sign in a march and I was just extremely impressed and honored.”