BEVERLY — Beverly was once poised to have a whole subdivision of homes designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Those plans fell through at the onset of World War I, but the original model home and another at 10541 S. Hoyne Ave. remain as a testament to what might have been.
One of these homes was built for H. Howard Hyde, a cashier at International Harvester, and is among six dwellings that will be showcased as part of the 2015 Beverly Hills/Morgan Park Home & Garden Tour.
Homes will be open for tours from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 17. Tickets cost $25 in advance and $30 on the day of the event. The Beverly Area Planning Association is again organizing the neighborhood tour.
John and Martie Brennan own the Frank Lloyd Wright home that was designated a Chicago landmark in 1994. It was the only house — other than the model at 10410 S. Hoyne Ave. — to be constructed in Beverly by American System-Built Houses.
The plan was to build pockets of these prefabricated houses throughout the Midwest. Milwaukee-based Richards Building Co. tapped Frank Lloyd Wright to design the catalog of homes that would be available just ahead of its planned expansion, Martie Brennan said.
"The development was never realized, unfortunately," Brennan said Wednesday.
The Brennan family's Beverly home was one of the few that was ever constructed. The Brennans bought the home in 1999 and immediately began an eight-year renovation project.
The results are nothing short of stunning, particularly for fans of Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie School of architecture. Strong birch wood accents and smartly selected furniture complement Wright's uniquely American style of design.
Brennan said she didn't buy the house with four bedrooms and three bathrooms because of its history. Rather, she fell in love with the design as result of raising her family in the home. The Brennans have two children — Will, 11, and Hannah, 14.
"It was a great house that just happened to be designed by Frank Lloyd Wright," Brennan said as she scurried to get her house picture perfect ahead of the tour.
Prior to renovations, the Brennans tapped the expertise of John Thorpe, a founding volunteer with the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust of Oak Park. He was able to walk through the Beverly home and make recommendations toward unearthing the original look of the structure.
That included removing the plaster that was covering the brick fireplace. Thorpe also suggested window accents that would have been part of Wright's original concept for the home.
"My husband saw the vision. I was a mess about things," Brennan said.
The 2,448-square-foot home eventually began to take shape with a distinct look and feel that dated to its original construction date in 1917.
Unlike some of Wright's other homes built for the common man, Brennan said her house was likely designed with a business executive in mind. It originally cost $6,000.
The home was also built near what was once a country club. And the first owner added onto the home shortly after moving in. The family's kitchen and John Brennan's second-floor office are now part of the addition that changed the L-shaped house into a square.
And while the Brennans have no plans to remove the addition, they remain stewards of the home. They've even visited another American Systems-Built home in Monona, Iowa, to compare notes.
Still, the days of eating dinner in her basement as rehab after rehab project was underway are never far from Martie Brennan's memory.
"It was a money pit," she said.
Some 800 people are expected to admire the Brennans' efforts on May 17, according to organizers.
The Beverly Hills/Morgan Park Home & Garden Tour will no longer offer trolleys this year. Anyone attending the tour still must pick up admission booklets at the planning association's community room at 11109 S. Longwood Drive in Morgan Park.
"We really weren't getting that many people on the trolleys," said Grace Kuikman, assistant director for the planning association.
In lieu of the trolleys, the association has made an effort to have all of the homes on the tour within a bikable distance. The bike tour is intended to give visitors a different perspective of the Far Southwest Side.
For more information about the home tour, visit the planning association's website or call 773-233-3100.
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