Edward R. Hills House

Edward R. Hills House

Infobox nrhp
name = Edward R. Hills House
nrhp_type = cp



caption =
location = Oak Park, Cook County, Illinois, USA
nearest_city =
lat_degrees = 41
lat_minutes = 53
lat_seconds = 32
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 87
long_minutes = 48
long_seconds = 2
long_direction = W
area =
built = c. 1874, 1906 and 1977
architect =Frank Lloyd Wright
architecture = Prairie style
added = December 4, 1973
visitation_num =
visitation_year =
refnum = 7300069
mpsub =
governing_body = Private owner
The Edward R. Hills House, also known as the Hills-DeCaro House, is a home that Frank Lloyd Wright designed the remodel for in 1906. The house is located in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, Illinois, and is cast in Wright's signature Prairie style. In 1976, a major fire destroyed much of the original Wright-designed remodel. The home's owners rebuilt the house after the fire following Wright's original plans and restoring the building to its original 1906 appearance.

Wright's 1906 remodel completely eliminated an earlier Stick style residence on the property and resulted in a Prairie style house on the lot. The Hills-DeCaro House is highly significant for its architecture and it represents the melding of two distinct phases in Frank Lloyd Wright's career. The house contains many elements of both Prairie style and the designs that Wright experimented with throughout the 1890s.The house underwent an extensive restoration following the fire, returning it to its original 1906 appearance. The house is listed as a contributing property to a federal historic district listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and a local Oak Park Landmark.

History

The original house on the site stood north of the current home and was an 1874 Stick style residence." [http://gis.hpa.state.il.us/hargis/PDFs/209223.pdf Hills-DeCaro House] ," (PDF), Oak Park Landmark Nomination Form, HAARGIS Database, "Illinois Historic Preservation Agency". Retrieved 3 June 2007.] In 1906 the house was moved to its current location to utilize its foundation for a remodel by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright." [http://www.oprf.com/flw/Hills.html Edward R. Hills House] ," "Oak Park Tourist", excerpted from: Sprague, Paul E. "Guide to Frank Lloyd Wright & Prairie School Architecture in Oak Park" Oak Park Bicentennial Commission of the American Revolution and Oak Park Landmarks Commission, Village of Oak Park: 1986, (ISBN 0961691506). Retrieved 3 June 2007.] Frank Lloyd Wright Architectural Guide Map, "Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust".] Wright was commissioned by William Gray to remodel the house for his daughter, Mary, who was married to attorney Edward Hills. The result of Wright's design rendered the original house non-existent.

In 1976, a fire devastated the Wright designed remodel. The first floor was gutted when the entire second and third floors were completely destroyed and collapsed onto the first floor.Anonymous. "Wright landmark burns; 1 hurt," ( [http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=611031252&sid=1&Fmt=2&clientId=8829&RQT=309&VName=HNP ProQuest] ), "Chicago Tribune", 4 January 1976, pg. 3. Retrieved 3 June 2007.] The fire was the indirect result of restoration work that was ongoing at the time. The blaze was blamed on an electric sander which was turned on in a storage room on the home's second floor. An electric spark in the sander ignited cleaning fluids and paint fumes in the room and the fire spread throughout the second and third floors. Irene DeCaro was injured in the fire when she returned to the burning home to search for her pet cat.

The next year the home's owners, Thomas and Irene DeCaro, undertook an extensive restoration designed to restore the fire damaged home to the original Wright specifications, based upon his plans. Their restoration included adding original Wright features which were lost through the years due to alterations by the Hills. The restoration brought the appearance of the home's exterior back to its 1906 look. For their part in the restoration the house is sometimes referred to as the Hills-DeCaro House.

Architecture

The Edward R. Hills House was remodeled in Prairie style by Frank Lloyd Wright, rendering an 1874 Stick style structure non-existent. The fenestration, typical of Wright's early Prairie style, appears in horizontal bands. The windows were custom made for the house after the 1976 fire and modeled precisely on Wrights plans. The front facade of the Hills House is set back, about 100 ft (30.48 m) from the street (Forest Avenue in Oak Park). This feature is common to Prairie style homes. The front porch wraps around the home's northeast corner and is supported by stucco covered piers and porch supports. The front door features the same leaded glass pattern found in the Wright designed windows. On the first floor of the front (east) facade are a pair of casement windows flanked by single casements on its southern end. At the center are three pairs of casements in a continuous strip. The second floor of the east facade of the home has a pair of casement windows topped by a single horizontal pane at its south end. In the center is a rectangular bay with four pairs of casement windows topped by a single horizontal window pane. Over the front stairs and on the third floor are pagoda-style dormers topped with a flaring, tier-style roof covered in cedar shingles.

ignificance

The Hills-DeCaro House is an example of Wright's remodeling design work. It is listed as a contributing property to the Frank Lloyd Wright-Prairie School of Architecture Historic District." [http://gis.hpa.state.il.us/hargis Frank Lloyd Wright-Prairie School of Architecture Historic District] ," Property Information Report, HAARGIS Database, "Illinois Historic Preservation Agency". Retrieved 3 June 2007.] The historic district joined the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1973. [http://www.nr.nps.gov/ National Register Information System] , National Register of Historic Places, "National Park Service". Retrieved 3 June 2007.] On January 7, 2002, the Hills-DeCaro House was declared a landmark by the village of Oak Park." [http://www.oak-park.us/public/pdfs/Historic%20Preservation/11.08.06_Historic_Landmark_List.pdf Oak Park Historic Landmarks] ," (PDF), "Village of Oak Park", official website, 8 November 2006. Retrieved 3 June 2007.] The Hills-DeCaro House is one of three homes in Oak Park that Wright was commissioned to remodel. The other two are the 1906 Peter A. Beachy House, which was under renovation when the Hills House was built, and the William H. Copeland House, also on Forest Avenue.

The structure is most significant for its architecture which represents the integration of Wright's early style and his mature Prairie style; it represents a transition between periods in Wright's career. The steep-pitched roof, the dormers and simple leaded glass window designs recall Wright's earlier work, some of which is in Oak Park, such as the Thomas H. Gale House, the Robert Parker House and the Walter Gale House. The flared roof above the entry porch recalls early Wright designs including the George W. Smith House and the Rollin Furbeck House. However, the Hills-DeCaro House contains several elements from Wrights fully mature Prairie style comparable to the elements in homes that were under construction or already built when Wright undertook the Hills House, such as the Arthur Heurtley House and the aforementioned Beachy House. Prairie elements within the design include the contrast of stucco and horizontal wood banding, a built-in planter beneath the north elevation's octagonal bay window, and the hidden entryway which is tucked into the home's northeast corner. On its interior the Prairie emphasis continues with an open floor plan and built-in furniture such as bookcases." [http://gis.hpa.state.il.us/hargis/PDFs/209223.pdf Hills-DeCaro House] ," (PDF), Oak Park Landmark Nomination Form, HAARGIS Database, "Illinois Historic Preservation Agency", pg. 10. Retrieved 3 June 2007. "Entire paragraph reference".]

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