The History of Wright in Glencoe

Throughout 2015, the Glencoe Historical Society celebrated the centennial anniversary of the Wright-designed structures in Ravine Bluffs.   However, Wright’s work in Glencoe began ten years before that in 1905 with the Glasner House.

The Glasner House – 850 Sheridan Road

Wright designed his first Glencoe home on the edge of the wooded ravine at 850 Sheridan Road for banker William Glasner in 1905. It incorporates many of the early architectural innovations which helped define the Prairie style of architecture – such as a broad overhanging, low pitched roof and ornamental stain glass casement windows.

Designs for Stone, Gerts and Fuller

The Glasner House was followed in 1906 by designs for Elizabeth Stone and Walter Gerts which were never built. A third 1906 design for Grace Fuller remains the subject of dispute. Some believe it was built and later demolished. Others believe it was never built at all.

The Brigham House – 790 Sheridan Road

Several years later, in 1908-09, Wright designed a home for Edmund D. Brigham at 790 Sheridan Road. This home was novel at the time because it was built in concrete.  It also exhibits many of Wright’s distinctive Prairie style features – including broad roof overhangs, wood banding and ribbon windows.

The Booth House – Scheme #1

In 1911, Sherman and Elizabeth Booth commissioned Wright to design a mansion-size residence to be built on a 15 acre triangular estate in Northern Glencoe with an accompanying plan for a park and nature preserve designed by noted landscape architect Jens Jensen.  Had this residence been built, it would have been among Wright’s greatest domestic commissions.   The Booths began construction on the project completing the Garage and Stable for the estate in 1912.

The Glencoe Plan of 1912

While working with Wright on the estate plans, Sherman Booth, a founding commissioner of the Glencoe Park District, also engaged Wright and noted landscape architect Jens Jensen to create a plan for downtown Glencoe which included streetscapes, a town hall and an art gallery. The drawings survive but the designs were never built.

The Summer Cottage – 239 Franklin Street

In 1913, Wright designed a small Summer Cottage (in some publications erroneously called the Gardener’s Cottage or the Honeymoon Cottage) for the Booth family pending construction of the estate residence. Sometime after the cottage was built, the Booths plans changed and they converted their private estate into a commercial subdivision.  The Booth family lived in the Summer Cottage, however, until their principal residence was completed several years later.  The home was moved to its current location at 239 Franklin after the main house was built in 1916.

The Ravine Bluffs Homes

In 1914, the Booths subdivided their estate and created Ravine Bluffs. This subdivision was originally planned to include 25 Wright-designed (yet customizable) homes with Jensen landscaping, sculptural entrance features, a private trains station, winding roadways and a concrete bridge over a wooded ravine with adjoining parks and golf grounds.

For a variety of reasons, only five of the homes were built in 1915.   They are similar in design to the plans for the $5000 “Fireproof House” Wright published in Ladies Home Journal several years earlier.  Many publications have erroneously reported that these homes were built by Booth as rental properties.  That was never the case.  Booth’s goal was to build and sell 25 homes in an all-Wright subdivision.  The Wright homes today are generally referred to by the names of their first owner.

The Perry House – 272 Sylvan Road

The Kissam House – 1023 Meadow Road

The Ross House – 1027 Meadow Road

The Root House – 1030 Meadow Road

The Kier House – 1031 Meadow Road

The Ravine Bluffs Street Markers

Wright defined the boundaries of Ravine Bluffs with three poured concrete sculputral street markers that have planters, lights and originally – horse troughs.  The first two markers (the North Marker at Sylvan Road and Franklin Street and the West Marker at the Sylvan Road turnaround) were built in 1915.

The Sylvan Road Bridge

Wright first included a design for a bridge traversing the wooded ravine in the Scheme #1 estate.  It was later redesigned for the Ravine Bluffs subdivision.  The Village of Glencoe granted permission to build the concrete bridge in 1915.  Structural deterioration forced the village to close the bridge in 1977.  The original bridge was removed and rebuilt in 1985.

The Green Bay Road Waiting Station

The original plans for the Ravine Bluffs subdivision included a private train station to be located at what is now the Sylvan Road turnaround.  That station was never built.  Wright’s alternate design for a public waiting station for the North Shore Electric line was constructed at the intersection of Maple Hill Road and Old Green Bay Road in approximately 1917.  It was demolished sometime after the railroad ceased operations in July of 1955.

The Booth House – Scheme #2 – 265 Sylvan Road

Wright revised his original plans for the magnificent Booth estate and incorporated the Garage and Stable into a smaller family home which was built in 1916.  It was one of Wright’s last prairie designs and his final work in Glencoe.