Emil Bach House
Included in the 1992-1993 Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Tour
Emil Bach House was one of the featured locations in openhousechicago 2011.
On December 5, 1914, Emil Bach and his wife Anna purchased the site of the Bach House at 7415 N. Sheridan Road from Amelia Ludwick and her husband. In 1915 Bach commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design the house. Joseph Peacock purchased the house from the Bachs in 1934 and owned it until 1947. The property changed hands twice in 1951; the final sale was in December to Manuel Weiss who held the property until 1959. That year he sold the house to Joseph Blinder.
In 2003, Reza Toulabi put the home up for sale with a price of US$2.5 million, it was later listed at $1.9 million. The house lingered on the market for months before it was finally put up for auction with a starting bid of $750,000, less than a third of the original asking price. Factors contributing to the slow market for the Wright designed landmark included the restrictive nature of local landmark ordinances which prevent owners from making significant alterations without prior approval. The Rogers Park neighborhood changed from a once quiet lake front, country area to a busy street, which also contributed to the sluggish demand for the house.
Preservationists expressed concern surrounding the auction and the question of the final destiny for the expansive 45 ft. by 150 ft. side yard. The yard is zoned "RT-4" which, among other residential uses, allowed bidders the option to develop high rise apartments or condominiums. When the home finally sold at auction, "well above the opening bid of $750,000," the new owners revealed that they intended to live in the house and preserve the yard.
The Bach House is one of the homes Wright designed after his 1911 return from Europe still extant in the City of Chicago. The home is part of a series of geometric, cubic homes with overhanging, flat roofs designed by Wright in the early 20th Century. The first was the Laura Gale House in Oak Park, Illinois, followed by the Oscar Bach House, also in Oak Park, Coonley Kindergarten, the Bogh House and then the Bach House. Of the houses of this type in Chicago, with cubic masses and a slab roof, the Bach House is the only one left standing.
The 2,700 sqft house was designed as a two-story single family residence with a basement. When the house was constructed it was a "country home" with a clear view of Lake Michigan from its rear (east) facade. Due to the changing nature of the Rogers Park neighborhood, the house now stands among commercial properties and apartment buildings on a busy North Sheridan Road. Because of the lake view, the original building had a large rear porch and sun deck; they were both enclosed when houses were built between the Bach House and the lake, obstructing the view. The enclosure of the sun deck and porch utilized mainly glass, to aid in the alteration's melding with Wright's intended vision. Nonetheless, the current owner intends to restore the rear porch and sun deck. Other alterations included the removal of some of Wright's signature built-in features. A built-in seat was removed from the living room and a built-in counter removed in the dining room. Both have since been restored. On the second floor, the servant's room was converted into a second bathroom.
The Bach House is an example of Frank Lloyd Wright's late Prairie style and was designed in the period just prior to his transition to a more expressionist, Japanese influenced aesthetic. The home's individuality, coupled with its high artistic merit, and famous architect, make it significant historically and culturally. The City of Chicago declared the structure a Chicago Landmark on September 28, 1977, and on January 23, 1979, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The Bach House is on prime Chicago real estate, one block from Lake Michigan. The neighborhood has been an area where developers bought property with the intent of building high-rise apartment and condominium buildings. According to experts such as Ronald Scherubel, the executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy in Chicago, a historic preservation easement has likely been the only thing that has prevented demolition of the Bach House. The easement prohibits the destruction or alteration of the house without approval from the city and the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois.
DNAinfo.com May 16, 2014
Emil Bach House Wins Preservation Award
CHICAGO — The Far North Side's Emil Bach House was among the winners of the city's Preservation Excellence Awards on Thursday, May 15, 2014.
The full restorations of the Chicago landmarks were completed this year.
In Rogers Park, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Emil Bach House had been faithfully restored by Colonel Jennifer Pritzker's Tawani Enterprises.
Members of the Frank Lloyd Wright House Trust hailed the restoration as "one of the most complete restorations" of a Wright house ever.
The Commission on Chicago Landmarks said the restoration was "based on careful historic research and materials investigation."
The Emil Bach house was designated a Chicago Landmark on Wednesday, September 28, 1977.
29th Annual House Tour Booklet, page 20
Points of Interest (Walk-bys)
The only remaining home in Rogers Park designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Emil Bach House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The two-story residence was home to Emil and Anna Bach from 1915 to 1934, when it was purchased by Joseph and Florence Peacock In the post-war period the home passed through a variety of owners. It is now owned by Tawani Enterprises and operates as an event venue with limited accommodations for overnight guests.
Emil Bach was one of six brothers who owned and operated the Bach Brick Company. He commissioned Wright to design his home just a few blocks south of Wright home his brother Otto Bach owned at 7631 N. Sheridan Road, which was demolished in 1963. The Emil Bach House has been extensively restored and is open to the public on Wednesdays and Thursdays, May to October. Guided tour are offered through the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.
Architect: Wright, Frank Lloyd
Historic Name: Emil Bach House
Community: Rogers Park (01)
Address: 7415 N. Sheridan Road
Constructed: Started in 07/01/1916
Style: Prairie School
Type: Single-Family Residence
Color Code: Red
Building Details: Prairie School