The Ross House
Glencoe, Illinois

The Ross House was built as a "spec" house for Frank Lloyd Wright's attorney, Sherman Booth, who planned to develop an entire community of homes designed by Wright called “The Ravine Bluffs” Development. Landscape Architect Jens Jensen was named as a contributor to the project. The Sherman Booth house was the first to be built, followed by five rental homes, including the Ross House, to provide income for Mr. Booth. To provide unity to the development, Frank Lloyd Wright also designed a bridge and three sculptural markers for the development.

The Ross House has been vacant for 3 years. Subsequent alterations and a general lack of maintenance have led to considerable deterioration of this landmark structure. Concerned with the condition of the house, Landmarks Illinois placed the house on its endangered landmarks list in 2009.

The Ross House was designed as a modest 4 Bedroom, 1 Bath Home built on a property that is roughly 75 feet wide and 168 feet deep. The current house is 2,000 s.f. in size with an open porch and a full basement. A two-car garage was built in the 1930’s. The home was built using conventional “balloon-frame” construction, consisting of 2x4 exterior wall framing, 2x10 floor joists, clad with stucco and a cedar shingle roof. The kitchen and bathroom have been remodelled. A powder room was added on the ground floor. The radiator piping and interior plumbing pipes were destroyed by freezing 2 years ago. The previous owner added a sizeable entry foyer.There are three primary goals associated with the rehabilitation of the Ross House:

There are three primary goals associated with the rehabilitation of the Ross House:

1. Return the exterior of this historic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house to its original appearance. This will include the following:
- Removal of non-original entry vestibule and reconstruction of the original entry.
- Restoration of windows and exterior trim.
- Restoration of original stucco.

2. Restore original interior finishes where possible, but update the house to contemporary standards:
- Replacement of all mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.
- Remove the small (4th) bedroom and install 2 bathrooms and additional closets.
- Rebuild the open porch to serve as a family room.
- Install a contemporary kitchen which is open to the dining area.

The final and most significant goal of the project is to install contemporary “green” technology to reduce the energy use, utilize recycleable and sustainable construction and optimize the value of the property. These building components include the following:
- Geothermal heating and cooling.
- Extensive wall and roof insulation.
- Interior insulating glass storm windows.
- Energy-efficient lighting.
- “Gray” water recycling in bathrooms.
- Rainwater harvesting for landscape maintenance.
- Aluminum roofing manufactured from recycled aluminum.
- Interior finishes made from recycled materials where possible.
- Cabinets manufactured from wood obtained from certified sustainable forests.
- Solar photovoltaic panels on garage roof to minimize electrical consumption.
- Install energy-star rated appliances throughout.
- Obtain LEED certification to verify conformance with accepted environmental standards.

The Ross House will serve as a model for the next generation of rehabilitation projects, where past and future technologies coexist, thereby reducing energy consumption and fixed costs for historic properties.

The Brooks Building,   223 W Jackson Blvd.  Suite 1000,  Chicago, Illinois 60606        T 312.362.0180        F 312.362.0112