Since its completion more than a century ago, the home has had only three owners: the Booth family, Northwestern University, and Sonia and Ted Bloch, who bought it in 1967. According to Sonia, the house had been intended for use as a conference center for Northwestern, but the university wound up putting it on the market. “It was completely vacant when we saw it. It had ragged carpets, and none of the light fixtures worked,” she says. “To some people, it was ugly, but to me, it was gorgeous.” The Blochs got to work restoring the house to its original glory.
The house has a theme of rectangular forms, which are repeated on the windows, in the millwork and on the light fixtures Wright designed especially for the home.
A Restoration Odyssey
“We were very fortunate that my husband was in the lumber business at the time,” Sonia says. “He was able to track down hard-to-find wood species to match the rest of the house where we needed it.” One example is this front hallway flooring; Ted searched until he found the same species of oak in narrow pieces at an obscure lumber supplier in Michigan. “We were fortunate to have contacts to really do it right,” she says.
Making the home livable again was a labor of love. During the restoration, the Blochs honored Wright’s original design down to every last detail, including the lantern-like light fixtures throughout the house. Even though the restored fixtures don’t leave much room for artwork on the walls and were difficult to bring back to life, they are among Sonia’s favorite things about the house. “These lanterns are very elegant and give off the most beautiful light,” she says.