The new owners of a famed 106-year-old Frank Lloyd Wright cottage have filed for a permit to raze the structure just weeks after purchasing it.
Known locally as the Booth Cottage, the Glencoe, Illinois, property was built in 1913 as temporary housing for Wright’s personal attorney, Sherman Booth. Despite its history and connection to America’s most beloved architect the cottage has been noted on several lists of properties at risk for demolition due to the large plot of land on which the 1,700-square-foot structure sits.
The new owners, Jean Jingnan Yang and Justin Jun Lu of Riverwoods, bought it for $550,000 on May 9.
Less than two weeks later, they filed a permit asking the city to tear down the property, Landmarks Illinois announced online.
According to the advocacy group, Yan and Lu have not yet completed the full application process but, once they do, it will go through a review period of 180 days due to the home’s status as an “honorary landmark.” While that designation gives it a longer review period, it does not protect it from being demolished.
Yang and Lu did not reply to Inman’s request for comments.
Lisa DiChiera, director of advocacy at Landmarks Illinois, told Inman that even though the home is not as beautiful as some of Wright’s more well-known work, it is still a piece of local history that needs to be protected.
“It’s very humble and not your typical upscale Frank Lloyd Wright design,” DiChiera said, adding that two other Frank Lloyd Wright properties are currently for sale in the same area. “It’s really indicative of very unique design features that Wright would continue to use in his Usonian period. It really is a rarity in his design legacy.”
Landmarks Illinois is currently working with the Village of Glencoe, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, and local architecture fans to prevent the cottage from being destroyed. Since word of the owners’ permit application made the news, many Wright fans have voiced their discontent about destroying a piece of local history for the land.
“The most vulnerable time for a Frank Lloyd Wright building is when there is a change in ownership with no strong protections in place,” Barbara Gordon, the executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, told Inman. “While the family who sold the building told us they didn’t want it torn down, they also weren’t willing to go the extra step to ensure that by either making it a certified landmark with strong protections, or donating an easement.”
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