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Preservation Project of the Year
River Forest Women’s Club
River Forest




This 1913 board-and-batten clubhouse was designed by the Prairie School Architect William Drummond, who was Frank Lloyd Wright’s chief draftsman and husband to one of the women’s club’s members. His design has been recognized in Frederick Koeper’s 1968 publication, Illinois Architecture from Territorial Times to Present where it was compared stylistically to Wright’s masterpiece Unity Temple. After 90 years of continued use as a private club, declining membership and cumulative maintenance issues forced the women to make a tough decision. In 2005, the Club made plans to donate the building to the River Forest Park District, who had been renting the property for various uses. The Park District, however, was unable to commit to preserving the building for the long term and the village did not have authority to landmark the site. Centered on a double residential lot and vulnerable to teardown redevelopment, the site was placed on Landmarks Illinois’ Ten Most Endangered Historic Places list.

Thanks to the widespread media exposure, an interested buyer came forward with an offer to restore the building and convert it to a single family residence. The main floor auditorium was retained and the lower level was converted into living space. Original wood windows and portions of the siding, which were in severely poor condition, were repaired or reconstructed to match. Interior finishes were restored and the exterior siding was returned to its historic brown color. In addition to their careful restoration work, the owners donated a preservation easement on the property to protect the site in perpetuity.






Landmarks Illinois
Suite 1315
53 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604 
tel. 312-922-1742 
fax 312-922-8112



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