W. Irving Clark House, La Grange IL

The W. Irving Clark house is located at 211 S. La Grange Road in La Grange Illinois.  It was one the last bootleg homes attributed to Frank Lloyd Wright.  The home was built in 1893 just before he left Adler and Sullivan. Originally the design was attributed to E. Hill Turnock.   It is believed that the designs were in Turnock’s name to avoid any issues that might arise with Wright’s contract with Adler and Sullivan.  His contract with Adler and Sullivan did not allow for work on independent projects outside of the firm.

The home was only attributed to Wright in the 1970s.  A set of Wright stamped drawings were found during building demolition.  Those drawings were verified by Bruce Brooks Pfieffer, the director of the Taliesin West archives. This research finally associated Wright with the W. Irving Clark House.

The like the Emmond house, the home displays influences from Wright’s own Oak Park home and study completed several years prior. The floor plan includes 15 rooms and 4 fireplaces.  The third floor contains a ballroom.   A steeply pitched roof is one similar element shared with the Oak Park home.  The Palladium window above the front door is also reminiscent of his Oak Park home.  Bay windows on either side the front of the home also use the same diamond leaded glass patterns from both his Oak Park residence and the Emmond residence a few blocks away.

The home also includes a porch in a half-octagon shape.   The octagon was a regular part of Wrights architectural vocabulary during this period of his work.  The octagon was prominent in his Oak Park Studio as well as his earlier Gale, and Emmond houses.

Owners of the W.  Irving Clark House

Capitan Charles Sherman Bentley was a commander of the  Commandery of the State of Illinois was known to have a military museum on the 3rd floor of the home. Captain Bentley served in the Second Wisconsin Calvary from October 10th, 1861 to February 15th, 1865. Local newspaper accounts preserved at the La Grange Area Historical Society tell the stories of children visiting the home as part of local school field trips.

The home was also owned by Joel Daley, a famous Chicago news anchor.  When Daley and his family had first purchased the home it had not yet been attributed to Wright.  The link to Wright was only discovered while he was living there in the 1970s.

The Clark House in Other Local History

As part of the Village of La Grange’s centennial celebration, several homes from the village were memorialized in a quilt.  The quilt is currently on display in the basement of the La Grange Public Library and features the Clark House as well as the Stephen B. Hunt house, also designed by Wright.