by Eric Jackson-Forsberg, Editor-in-chief
Top: J. J. Walser House
Bottom: Barton House
Although they have slowed considerably in the last few decades, threats of extinction for Wright buildings are not a thing of the past. Landmarks Illinois 2009-10 Chicagoland Watch List of endangered buildings includes three Wright houses: the J. J. Walser House (1903), the William F. Ross House (1915) and the William J. Vanderkloot Bungalow (1915). The Walser House may ring a bell for Martin House fans: it's the model that Wright and the Martins chose for their first project, the George and Delta Barton House (1903-04). Walser is privately owned, but badly in need of TLC, enough to make Landmarks Illinois' endangered list.
The three Wright buildings on the list are joined by the distinctive Rose House and Pavilion by architects James Speyer and David Haid. Both studied with Mies van der Rohe at ITT, and his influence is manifest in these International Style icons. The house and pavilion are less threatened by neglect than the Wright houses are, but perhaps more threatened by the market: the property is currently for sale via Sotheby's for a cool $2.3 million, and inquiries have been made about possible subdivision or demolition. This property will look familiar to fans of the 1986 John Hughes comedy Ferris Bueller's Day Off, as the auto pavilion figured prominently into a pivotal scene involving a classic Ferrari and alot of broken glass.
If only the Walser House could claim such fifteen minutes of Hollywood fame, it might be in better stead today (insert heavy sigh).