Why This Frank Lloyd Wright Home Won’t Sell

When Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes come to the market, we’re usually talking about multimillion dollar properties. In the past year, Wright’s Randall Fawcett home listed for $4.25 million, Tirranna hit the market for $8 million, the Circular Sun House for $8.9 million, and Westhope in Tulsa was put up for sale for $7.9 million. So news that a home designed by the famed architect is available for less than $100,000 surely sounds like something out of a fantasyland—and yet, it is reality. 

The exterior of the row houses. 

Photo: Joe Schiller

Located in Chicago just east of Garfield Park, a town house in Wright’s Waller apartment complex is for sale for just $75,000. Of course, this price comes with one major stipulation: The one-bed, one-bath home is abandoned and gutted down to the studs. “[It] will take an experienced professional with cash and city development experience,” reads the listing, which is represented by Joe Schiller of @Properties Christie’s International Real Estate. The façade is protected under landmark status, so new owners cannot change anything about the exterior other than repairs. A virtual tour of the home shows an interior in desperate need of some TLC, though perhaps it also represents an exciting opportunity for a Wright aficionado eager to breath new life into one of his earliest works.  

Built in 1895, the building was commissioned by Edward C. Waller, a real estate developer and early patron of Wright. According to the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, the five adjoining buildings were built as low-cost housing, with each building containing four one-bedroom apartments. Built before Wright’s 30th birthday, the project was one of his early commissions shortly after starting his own practice and leaving his position as head draftsman at Adler and Sullivan. “These apartments are considered among the earliest examples of subsidized housing in Chicago,” reads a plaque outside the complex. “The simplified design of the façade indicates the young architect’s departure from traditional design toward the abstract, modern principles for which he was later internationally known.” 

The interior has been taken down to the studs. 

Photo: Joe Schiller

The sellers are hoping to find someone who is willing to fix up the historic property. 

Photo: Joe Schiller

As reported by Crain’s Chicago Business, the seller has owned the property for two decades and is looking for a “savior.” Reportedly, a group of three partners, Thomas Garrity, Sam Fiorenzo, and Jerome Guerriero, purchased the home in 2003 for $88,500 with plans to restore it, though the project became overwhelming and was never completed. Neighbors, who share walls with the run-down unit, are eager for a passionate buyer who can get the home to hospitable condition, as its current state poses threats to their homes. While two potential buyers—both professional house flippers—had entered into contract, both deals fell through. “I usually don’t have trouble selling real estate, but this one is a challenge,” Schiller tells AD. “We need to find some Frank Lloyd Wright fans who appreciate the historic value of the home and are invested in the process of restoring it.” 

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