Wright’s Millard House Under Contract, Still Facing Threat of Demolition

After four years on the market, Wright’s George Madison Millard House may finally be transferring to new owners. The current owners have sought a permit to demolish the 1906 house in Highland Park, Illinois, but last month accepted a purchase offer from prospective buyers who plan to preserve it, according to the house’s listing agent.
After featuring the house on Wright on the Market and promoting its availability the Conservancy worked closely with two preservation-minded buyers who ultimately were not able to close deals with the seller.

The demolition permit application, which was submitted in July, involves determination of a waiting period, if any, before a permit is formally issued and the house can be razed. The Conservancy submitted a strong letter and Executive Director Janet Halstead spoke at the city’s Historic Preservation Commission meeting urging the maximum 365-day delay, which was adopted by Commission. The current owners then filed a request to cut that period to 180 days. The Conservancy continues to urge the city to maintain the maximum 365-day delay as efforts to transfer ownership move forward.

The Conservancy also delayed nominating the house for landmark status (a nomination that was not supported by the house’s owners twice in the past) to avoid complicating a potential sale and because the city has rarely landmarked a house without the owners’ consent. The landmarking option, which if successful would make demolition much less likely but would also require city approval of modifications by a future buyer, is still very much on the table if the demolition permit application is not withdrawn. The Conservancy will attend Highland Park’s city council meeting on December 14, when the demolition delay appeal will be addressed if it is not resolved sooner.

The house, built for George Millard and his wife Alice (who later commissioned Wright’s 1923 concrete-block house La Miniatura in Pasadena, California, which also recently found a new owner) sits on a wooded corner lot and features an open floor plan with 68 art glass windows and a restored open-air veranda.

The listing agent said the closing date for the contracted sale has not been scheduled but should happen within the next few months, Crain’s Chicago Business reports. At that time the new owners will have the option of withdrawing the demolition permit application.

The Conservancy is cautiously optimistic but continues to monitor the situation closely.

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