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The B. Harley Bradley House

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1900

Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright left an enduring legacy in Kankakee County with two neighboring houses set along the banks of the Kankakee River. The B. Harley Bradley House & Stable, a house museum, and the Warren R. Hickox House, a private residence, are both within Kankakee's Riverview Historic District.

B. Harley Bradley HouseDesigned in 1900, these two houses mark the beginning of Wright's Prairie School Style period. The style is distinguished by a simple, plain composition, horizontal to the ground, with long runs of casement windows, a low pitched roof, extended overhanging eaves, and wood trim that defines planes, turns corners and highlights special features. The geometric art glass patterns reflect natural plant forms.

The Bradley and Hickox houses are the very first of their kind and for the next decade, Wright's commissions are said to have been derived from these two basic plans. They were also the first in which Wright exercised total control over the interior, including furnishings, carpets, and unique art glass windows.

It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places individually and as part of the Riverview Historic District.

Following an extensive restoration, the Bradley House now enjoys the opportunity to be appreciated by architecture fans from around the world. Wright In Kankakee is pleased to offer you the opportunity to tour the Bradley House, browse fine gifts in the Stable Shop, or host your special event with them.



History

Through the years, the house and stable have seen many alterations.

1901-1913 B. Harley and Anna Hickox Bradley built the house and lived here with their adopted daughter, Margaret and Mr. Bradley’s parents, Byron and Alice (Wilbur) Bradley until 1913 when they sold the property to Mr. A. E. Cook of Iowa. The Bradleys moved to a farm in Onawa, Iowa, acquired in the sale.

1915-1949 Joseph H. Dodson was a member of the Chicago Board of Trade for 22 years. He was a bird lover and after retiring he chose the Bradley House for his home and the Stable for his bird house factory. He was a one time president of the National Audubon Society. Mr. Dodson bequeathed the property to his secretary Mrs. James F. Nelis, Sr., and the birdhouse business to Mrs. Nelis and valued employee, William Lord.

1953-1984 Marvin Hammack and Ray Schimel purchased the property, converting it to a restaurant known for 30 years as The Yesteryear. Through the years many alterations were made to both the house and stable. Diners traveled hundreds of miles for the Yesteryear experience, but the doors closed in 1983 when the owners became ill. Mr. Hammack’s estate removed and sold several original Wright designed pieces from the house.

1984-1985 Kankakee resident Richard Murray and his partner attempted to revive the restaurant business, but failed.

1986 Kankakee businessman Stephen B. Small bought the property in an attempt to save and restore the structure. His work came to a halt when he died in a botched kidnapping.

1990-2005 Attorneys Lee Thacker, Robert LaBeau, and Michael Dietchweiler, and architect Ron Moline purchased the property and converted the house into an office complex, dramatically modifying the interior by removing walls and eliminating rooms. The Stable was never included in the renovation; left vacant for 16 years it fell into a severely neglected state.

2005 Gaines and Sharon Hall acquired the property to rescue the Stable from demolition. Using FLW’s original plans they completed the restoration of both the house and stable as you see it today.

2010 Wright In Kankakee, a not-for-profit organization, acquires the house with the mission to acquire the house and open it to the public as an arts/education center.

All above info was taken from the Wright In Kankakee website. Photography by Paul Laue. For further information, please visit www.wrightinkankakee.com.
If you appreciate historical architecture, please consider a donation or a visit to the B. Harley Bradley House in Kankakee, IL.

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