GALESBURG COUNTRY HOME ACRES
Entrance sign in 2016
The entrance sign in 2006
This is another planned community in which four homes were built on a single street (the Parkwyn Village (S.298-S.301) subdivision in nearby Kalamazoo is another). Although originally designed as the Galesburg Country Homes, the subdivision (as platted with the county) is legally known as Galesburg Country Home Acres, and is known in the area as The Acres. Its entrance sign gives a nod to FLW with its red squares.
There are five homes in this subdivision. Four were designed by Wright: the David I. Weisblat home, 11185 Hawthorne Drive (S.294), the Eric Pratt residence, 11036 Hawthorne (S.295), the Samuel Eppstein residence, 11090 Hawthorne (S.296) and the Curtis Meyer home, 11108 Hawthorne (S.297). A non-Wright design is found at 11069 Hawthorne Drive (the Günther & Anne Fonken residence, designed by apprentice Francis “Will” Willsey and built in 1959; it sold in 2014).
As recorded in 1949 (which may not be the original plat since construction apparently began in 1948), the development included 22 homes on 70 acres in what had originally been the Bilotta farm. The plan called for circular lots with 114-foot radii (as was also planned for the Parkwyn Village subdivision in Kalamazoo), with each house occupying an acre, and the remaining land in common ownership through a homeowners’ association. (One plat map shows a total of 24 lots.)
Three of the homes employed a textile block system similar to what Wright had used in California. This was intended as a do-it-yourself alternative to help reduce costs. Owners here and in Kalamazoo worked together to build these blocks using native materials at the Kalamazoo development. Water from Asylum Lake was used, but it led to some discoloration from lime deposits that had to be scrubbed from the bricks with acid. Mahogany was used for the trim, and bulk purchasing enabled the owners to buy this nicer wood from a lumber yard in Grand Rapids at roughly the price of pine. Wright’s standard specifications call for cypress, but the homeowners’ group was able to save money while getting a better-quality wood.
John Howe supervised construction of all four Wright homes, and also organized an expansion at Weisblat in 1960.
NOTE: Update 4/7/2018: I have received updated information about the lots – notably, the Weisblat house is on Lot 9, according to the current owners. I will be updating my research.
The Galesburg Country Home Association collectively owns some lots (lot 10 was conveyed to the Association in 2005). Here are the ownership and dispositions of other lots:
Lot 1: undeveloped
Lot 2: Fonkens residence at 11069 Hawthorne Drive; not a Wright design
Lot 3: was owned by the Meyer family, but remained undeveloped
Lot 4: intended for the Nathan family; remained undeveloped
Lot 5: undeveloped
Lot 6: 11036 Hawthorne Drive, originally owned by Pratt
Lot 7: 11090 Hawthorne, originally owned by Eppstein
Lot 8: undeveloped
Lot 9: 11185 Hawthorne, originally owned by Weisblat
Lot 10: appears to be undeveloped; deeded to Association in 2005 by the Johnson family, who were intended as original owners of a Wright design
Lot 11: 11108 Hawthorne, originally owned by Meyer
Lots 12-18, 20: undeveloped
Lot 19 or 21: shown as originally owned by Weisblat, but not part of its current residence
Photographed in *August 2006 and on May 20, 2016. An “official” website address shown on area signage appears to be inactive.
This home sits at the back of the subdivision on lot 9. Other county records show that another lot may have also been held by the Weisblat family, but not developed (or at least not given a Wright home). This was the first of Wright’s homes built in this subdivision (1948).
The house remained in the Weisblat family until being placed on the market in August 2016. It has since sold.
The Pratt residence sits on lot 6. It is the first house you encounter as you come down Hawthorne Drive from South 36th Street, and the views shown here are in a wide-open space visible from the street.
Many guidebooks erroneously list the address as 11098 Hawthorne Drive. Its actual address is 11090, as confirmed by its mailbox, deeds registered with the county, and the paperwork on file with the federal government as part of the historic designation of this subdivision. Dorothy Eppstein’s memories of living in this home are found on-line.
The house is on lot 7. It underwent substantial renovation in 2015/2016 and has since been sold.
2016 post-renovation photos:
Close-up of repair to wall
The house is found on lot 11 of the subdivision. County records indicate that lot 3 also was in the Meyer family, but that lot is undeveloped.
designed by apprentice Francis “Will” Willsey