The New Owner of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Booth Cottage Just Filed For Demolition
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The New Owner of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Booth Cottage Just Filed For Demolition

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By Lucy Wang
The “endangered” Booth Cottage could be the first Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home to be torn down in the U.S. in over a decade.

Just two weeks after purchasing the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Booth Cottage for $555,000, the new owner of the architecturally significant house has filed a demolition permit application. The news comes via a Freedom of Information Act Request by nonprofit advocacy group Landmarks Illinois and the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy.

<span style="font-family: Theinhardt, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, &quot;Segoe UI&quot;, Roboto, Oxygen-Sans, Ubuntu, Cantarell, &quot;Helvetica Neue&quot;, sans-serif;">Wright’s Usonian style is evident in the home’s flat roof, overhanging eaves, and band of leaded glass windows that reinforce horizontality.</span>

Wright’s Usonian style is evident in the home’s flat roof, overhanging eaves, and band of leaded glass windows that reinforce horizontality.

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Built in 1913 in Glencoe, Illinois, the three-bedroom Booth Cottage was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright to provide temporary housing for Wright’s friend and attorney Sherman Booth, and his wife Elizabeth Booth. Originally located at 201 Franklin Road, the cottage was moved to its current location three years after the completion of the Booths' permanent house in 1916.

Originally located at 201 Franklin Road, the cottage was moved to 239 Franklin Street after the completion of the Booths’ permanent house.

Originally located at 201 Franklin Road, the cottage was moved to 239 Franklin Street after the completion of the Booths’ permanent house.

Meyer and Doris Rudoff purchased the house in 1956, and after their deaths, left the building in their daughter’s care. The cottage still retains  hallmarks of Wright's early Usonian style and has not been updated in decades. 

The modest, one-story home was originally designed as temporary housing.

The modest, one-story home was originally designed as temporary housing.

The three-bedroom Booth Cottage features hardwood floors, one fireplace, and two and a half baths.

The three-bedroom Booth Cottage features hardwood floors, one fireplace, and two and a half baths.

Given the cottage’s small and dated interior, as well as its location on a large, desirable lot, Landmark Illinois placed the modest, 1,750-square-foot home on its 2019 Most Endangered List last month—ahead of the Booth Cottage’s sale on May 9. The house was sold for nearly half the original $1 million asking price.

In hopes of saving the cottage, the Conservancy prepared in-house studies on how to restore the building on-site, and they shared their findings with the owner once the sale was complete. The Conservancy and other advocacy groups have also floated the idea of sensitively relocating the home as well.

A massing diagram created by the Conservancy to show how the restored Booth Cottage could be incorporated into a new development.

A massing diagram created by the Conservancy to show how the restored Booth Cottage could be incorporated into a new development.

"As a part of our exploration of options, the Conservancy has done a number of in-house studies on how to keep and restore the Wright building on its lot while allowing for the construction of a modern house on the property," says the Conservancy. "In these scenarios the cottage could be used as a guest house or in-law residence."

Although the Booth Cottage lacks official landmark status, the building holds honorary landmark status, which subjects the owner—identified only as 239 Franklin LLC—to a 180-day demolition delay when the demolition permit is issued.

The Booth Cottage was originally about 1,100 square feet in size.

The Booth Cottage was originally about 1,100 square feet in size.

The Booth Cottage is currently 1,750 square feet in size. No changes have been made to the house in recent decades.

The Booth Cottage is currently 1,750 square feet in size. No changes have been made to the house in recent decades.

If the owner's plan moves forward, the Booth Cottage will be the first Wright-designed home to be torn down since the Carr House was demolished in Michigan in 2004. Last year, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Lockridge Medical Clinic building in Whitefish, Montana was demolished, despite preservation efforts.

In the meantime, the Conservancy, Landmarks Illinois, and local advocates will continue to work towards preservation and adaptive reuse solutions. 

An image of the Booth Cottage in the early 1900s.

An image of the Booth Cottage in the early 1900s.

Those interested in saving this architecturally significant home can email Lisa DiChiera at Landmarks Illinois at ldichiera@landmarks.org or Barbara Gordon at the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy at bgordon@savewright.org.

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