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Jennifer Pritzker Eyeing Frank Lloyd Wright Homes for Bed and Breakfast

By Sam Cholke | August 29, 2013 8:14am
 Neighbors said they were invited to a secret meeting on a plan by Jennifer Pritzker to restore two Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Kenwood.
Wright Homes in Kenwood
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KENWOOD — Jennifer Pritzker plans to purchase two Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes in Kenwood and open a bed and breakfast, according to neighbors invited to a secret meeting about the project.

According to those at the Aug. 20 meeting with Sean McGowan of Pritzker’s Tawani Enterprises, Pritzker hopes to buy the Warren McArthur and George Blossom houses to create two 5-room bed and breakfasts on the 4800 block of South Kenwood Avenue.

“People weren’t cheering, but on the whole it was a positive meeting,” said Chuck Thurow, who hosted the meeting at his Kenwood home with McGowan.

McGowan confirmed that Pritzker was looking into purchasing both the Blossom House, which is on the market for $1.15 million, and the McArthur House, which is listed at $1.17 million.

“We are very interested in those properties, I’m not going to lie to you,” McGowan said. “There is certainly interest, but there’s not a lot to talk about yet because we’re in the early stages of looking into the properties.”

Pritzker is known to have a long running interest in Wright’s work and recently began restoration work on the Emil Bach House in Rogers Park designed by Wright 1915.

The two Kenwood homes are considered “bootlegs” designed by Wright off the books while he was still employed by architecture firm Adler and Sullivan.

Both homes were built in 1892, and Thurow, who has been in both homes, said the Blossom House at 4858 S. Kenwood Ave. needs considerable work but maintains many of the original interior details envisioned by Wright.

“It would be kind of an expensive project, but it’s a rare opportunity to restore two Frank Lloyd Wright homes,” Thurow said.

Broker Louisa McPharlin of Coldwell Banker is selling both homes.

“The McArthur House is my family home as well as the two houses being my listings,” McPharlin said. “I grew up there and actually met Mr. Wright.”

The homes show the first signs of Wright’s prairie style of architecture, which he fully embraced a decade after the homes were completed. The coach house, completed years after the main home, has the characteristic wide eaves and small windows that defined Wright’s style on such buildings as the Robie House at 5757 S. Woodlawn Ave.

T. Gunny Harboe of Harboe Architects is expected to work on the restoration of the two homes, according to those at the meeting.