The home at 471 East Oxford Road home was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright protégé Dennis Blair, who worked on the model for Wright’s design for the Guggenheim Museum.
Blair is perhaps best-known for designing Adlai Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois, but he also designed many private residences in the Chicago suburbs, in towns such as Highland Park, Long Grove and the entire Barrington area. One of Blair’s clients was Dick Marx, father of pop music star Richard Marx.
In the early 1950s, Blair was recognized by Architectural Record as “an architect to watch” along with fellow Chicago modernist Harry Weese.
Blair’s designs, while often visually stunning, were always based on practical ideas. He understood that our sometimes harsh and extreme weather meant devising solutions to real problems. When designing a house with stone or brick walls, the walls would sometimes be hollow, providing a thermal break between the outside and inside air.
One of Blair’s design trademarks was to locate the kitchen at the front of the house, as he felt it was important for the home’s occupants to be able to see who was coming up the driveway toward the home while working or entertaining in the kitchen.
471 East Oxford Road was designed and built in 1966 for photographer T.S. Ullmann. Blair sited the house facing south out over the Biltmore area’s Honey Lake, and the front of the house was designed with privacy in mind. As you approach the front door, the entryway is “see through,” offering views through the house, out to the property and lake beyond. The back of the house is almost all glass, taking advantage of passive solar design and making the home feel bright and open in every space.
Originally designed with 3 bedrooms, 2½ baths and a detached 2-car garage, the house has been expanded twice in its 51-year history and now features an extra bedroom and bathroom. The first addition added a family room with darkroom (now a dry bar) on the main level, an office with closets upstairs, a mudroom and a second stairway as well as attaching the garage to the rest of the home.
The second addition featured an endless pool and hot tub on the main level, with an exercise room, full bath with steam shower, walk-in closet and game room on the second floor, plus another mud room and a second detached 2-car garage.
Both additions are very respectful to Blair’s original architecture, following the original home’s lines and using the same materials in construction, a true balance of tasteful midcentury renovations while retaining the integrity of the home.
4,606 square feet
Built in 1966
To learn more about this home or to schedule a showing, contact Lou Zucaro at Modern Illinois, or call (312) 907-4085.
Lou Zucaro is the creator of Modern Illinois, celebrating mid- to late-century modern residential architecture in the Chicago area and throughout Illinois. Visit his website for features about modern homes, architects, artists and more.