© Gilman Lane. Courtesy of Oak Park Public Library – Special Collections
Frederick Bagley House threatened with demolition
By Frank Lloyd Wright, Hinsdale, IL, 1894

Docomomo International became aware by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy that the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Frederick Bagley House in Hinsdale, IL, is threatened with demolition.

“A unique and irreplaceable early work by Frank Lloyd Wright is at risk in Hinsdale, Illinois. The Frederick Bagley House, designed in 1894, is being marketed by @properties to a limited audience, with promotional materials focusing solely on the qualities of Hinsdale and the house’s site, making no reference to Wright and little to the house itself. The house has no legal protection, and it would appear the audience for this sale is primarily developers who would demolish the house in order to build a larger house. This practice is common in Hinsdale and has already happened on the lots immediately to the north and south of the Bagley House.

The Dutch Colonial house, while it may not appear on the surface to have connections with Wright’s later Prairie and Usonian period work, is an important product of the early years of his independent practice after he left the firm of Adler & Sullivan. In these years he explored numerous forms and design motifs that would surface in his UNESCO World Heritage-listed works Unity Temple and Robie House a little over a decade later.

Significant in its own right, several elements of the Bagley House display manifestations of Wright’s larger body of work. The first-floor plan of its main block is a close variation of Wright’s own Oak Park home (1889), designed just a few years before. Even more notable is the Bagley House’s octagonal library, which extends to the south from the house’s main block. It is a clear precursor of Wright’s own Oak Park Studio library (1898).

The vulnerability of this significant work of an architect of recognized international importance demonstrates the precarious status of historic structures in affluent areas. The Bagley House is a vital part of Wright’s canon and its loss would be tragic for the Wright community, historians and architecture lovers everywhere.

This house needs a sensitive preservation-minded buyer who will purchase and legally protect the building for the future. With local landmark designation, a rehabilitation could qualify for the Illinois Property Tax Assessment Freeze. The lot could accommodate a sensitive addition.”

Docomomo International wishes to express our concerns, and wants to raise awareness in order to preserve this unique example of the Modern Movement architecture.

To know more, please go to Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy website.

© Patrick Mahoney, AIA