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Frank Lloyd Wright’s William Winslow House for sale

The William Winslow House was built 1893 when Frank Lloyd Wright was just 26. It features Wright's now famous low

The William Winslow House was built in 1893 when Frank Lloyd Wright was just 26. It features Wright's now famous low and wide roof. William Winslow House in River Forest.

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Updated: January 6, 2014 1:06PM

Peter Walker had a major task as a child living in Frank Lloyd Wright’s William Winslow House in west suburban River Forest: answer the front door for curious architects.

“My mother was very generous,” Walker said. “If you can imagine a 10-year-old son [in 1964], and his duty is the door. It was always an architect. Not just someone from the outside. My mother would just say, ‘Show them the bottom part of the house, the show rooms.’”

Beginning on Dec. 16, the home at 515 Auvergne Place — designed by Wright in 1893 — will be listed for sale for the first time since 1955.

Bill and June Walker, the home’s fifth and longest owners, bought the architectural gem in 1958. And the property, now listed for $2.4 million with the real estate firm Jameson Sotheby’s, has not been seen publicly since it was featured in a home walk in 1979.

June Walker died in April. Her husband, a famous jingle writer, died in 1994.

Peter Walker, who is selling his family home, said living there with his parents and two brothers was a “privilege.”

“Even as a young kid, I think we knew it was something exotic, something different,” he said.

The home was placed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, and was Wright’s first independent commission after leaving Louis Sullivan’s architectural firm. He built it when he was just 26 for Winslow, an ornamental iron businessman who also published books in a home studio.

Architecture experts say the home is extremely significant: “It’s a building that shows a transitional work — before his {Wright’s] Prairie style, and after he left working for Louis Sullivan,” according to Barbara Gordon, of the Chicago Architecture Foundation. “It has features in it reminiscent of Sullivan, in terms of planning and in terms of ornamentation. But it’s pretty symmetrical on the front facade of the building with a central doorway, which was unusual for Wright.”

The roof is signature Wright — wide and low with deep overhangs.

“It brings your eyes back to the ground level so it emphasizes the horizontality of the overall building, and it in particular links it to Wright’s development to his Prairie style,” Gordon said.

A wide foyer featuring a private seating area and a fireplace was a nice place for guests to talk, according to Walker. And the large dining room with built-in wooden benches kept homeowners entertaining for hours.

“My parents, they were in the generation where [entertaining] is all they did,” Walker said. “...There were a lot of places to sit and have conversations.”


Twitter: @tinasfon

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