House of the Day #70: 7121 S. Paxton

Curbed Chicago notes that the Allan Miller House, at 7121 S. Paxton in South Shore, has been languishing on the market for quite a while. It’s well worth checking out their post to see the fantastic interior. The exterior is difficult to photograph because of the extensive foliage, but it’s obviously a classic of the Prairie Style.

The Allan Miller House was built in 1915 for an advertising executive, about whom I have been able to learn little. By 1923, it was already on the market. A classified ad locates it in the “best part of South Shore district”, and raves “must be seen to be appreciated.” It listed again in 1932, when the ad highlighted “oil burner; mech. refrig,” and again in 1936, when an owner leaving town offered it for $17,500 (about $272,000 in today’s dollars – a huge amount of money during the Great Depression). I can’t easily find anything else on the house’s history. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991, and became a Chicago Landmark in 1993.

The notoriety of the house is due to the architect who designed it. John Van Bergen began working under Frank Lloyd Wright very early in his architectural career, in 1909, and quickly mastered Wright’s favored style. By 1911, he was practicing alone, and he designed a number of Prairie houses. This one is the only one remaining within the city of Chicago.

It’s a beautiful, well-maintained house, surrounded by other houses of similar quality and condition, if lesser architectural pedigree. Paxton and nearby 72nd Street are quiet, attractive, and full of nice houses. What’s the problem here? Probably price and proximity to 71st Street, the somewhat weak commercial heart of South Shore. It’s likely difficult to convince anyone who can afford to pay $400,000+ for a house to live two doors down from a street that’s mostly empty lots, with a Family Dollar and long-vacant storefronts the only amenities. Here’s hoping there’s a wealthy architecture buff who wants to live here, and perhaps help make the neighborhood better too.

4 comments

  1. Woah. “Not easily indexed” is an understatement! I think I may just download all the PDF versions of nominations and rename them so I have them on hand in a way that I can actually use How did you find this?

  2. Well, almost all of the reports have been scanned at this point. But it’s time consuming to upload them all individually. Instead archive.org just piles them into one entry. There are a few individual reports posted as well.