Glencoe Historical Society Land Lease Approved

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

At the January 21 Board of Commissioners meeting, residents and historians shared their thoughts on the Glencoe Historical Society’s efforts to help preserve Frank Lloyd Wright’s Booth Cottage through a potential land lease of Park 7N (located at Maple Hill Road and Meadow Road).  

After listening to representatives from the Glencoe Historical Society and concerned neighbors, the Board of Commissioners discussed the opportunity and examined questions that arose during the public comment session. In the motion to approve the lease, the Board added a clause to work with the Glencoe Historical Society to limit the public hours of operation. Under a deadline to secure the property, the Board of Commissioners then voted 4-1 to approve the lease. The approved a 99-year land lease grants a small portion of Park 7N to the Glencoe Historical Society for the price of $1 per year. It stipulates that no Glencoe Park District funds will be used for the relocation, construction, or maintenance of the Booth Cottage. The Glencoe Historical Society will use donations and grants to move and restore the historic structure, with assistance from the Village of Glencoe on building permits, parking restrictions, and the installation of an accessible sidewalk. The lease agreement mandates all exterior restoration must be completed within one year. 

“This decision required the board to take a broader view of what contributes to residents’ quality of life,” Board President Lisa Brooks said. “Preserving this asset within Glencoe in the Ravine Bluffs area is important to residents appreciative of the character of our village, historical preservation, architecture and culture. The board understands the neighbor’s concerns and will work with GHS to mitigate their concerns regarding parking and hours of operation.” 

She added, “Unfortunately, we are up against the racing clock so the normal process of community feedback was shortened.” 

Once restoration is complete, the Booth Cottage will be used by the Glencoe Historical Society as a research center, museum and small program space. The Booth Cottage hours of operation will be limited and additional hours will require approval by the Glencoe Park District. 

The Booth Cottage was originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1913 as temporary housing for Sherman and Elizabeth Booth. Preservationists believe the cottage is worth saving because it anticipates the Usonian houses Wright designed from the 1930s to his death in 1959. The Usonian houses, aimed at middle-class buyers, influenced the low-slung ranch houses that proliferated in post-World War II suburbia. The signature elements of the Cottage’s design, elements that tie it to Wright’s later Usonian houses, include its flat roof, banded windows and strong horizontal lines.