Houses on Clinton Place and William Street

River Forest, Illinois


It is no surprise that houses are newly attributed to Wright even after all these years.  Recordkeeping was not always precise, and the measure of his involvement in the works of others from his office cannot always be calculated.  He may have approved initial designs, but others may have made changes he would not approve.  Work carried on when he was out of the country, and sometimes apprentices’ contributions overtook the Master’s.


Some of these “recent finds” are uncontroversial, such as discoveries of modified prefab designs.  Others, like these houses in River Forest, generate a hive of controversy in which absolute proof is impossible and theories (speculation?) might have a difficult time in a court of law.  Of course, the origin of a design ordinarily does not become a legal issue, so the controversy is limited to college classrooms and Wright chatrooms.


Thus we find the homes of Clinton Place and William Street, identified to an unconvinced jury of peers as being designed by Wright himself.  Many in the architectural community credit Harry Robinson as the designer, and regard these homes as “bootleg” designs while Robinson was employed by Wright.  Prof. Storrer, however, has identified these as Wright designs with common elements, many being mirror images of each other, based on interior details that suggest FLW, Lloyd Wright, and John Wright.  This causes additional concern: if we have to rely on interior details to define a Wright design, how often will we have the privilege of entering and measuring private residences?


Prof. Storrer rejects the theory of Robinson design, arguing that Robinson never took credit for this output when applying for government work.  Others point out that Wright never claimed them, either.  Storrer counters that Wright must have agreed to keep his name off the paperwork, due to his reputation during this time.  I will point out that his blatant womanizing never kept him humble or sympathetic to clients’ feelings (heck, he even took a client’s wife). 


Other sites have not included a comprehensive catalog of the questioned properties (some don’t even mention the city).  Without concluding which side is correct, I offer the neighborhood here.


Photographed on May 5, 2014.



Update 2015/2016


In 2015 one of Prof. Storrer’s associates announced that another house had been identified by his staff as a Wright design.  Although they did not disclose the precise address, I was able to determine that they are referring to 715 Clinton Place in River Forest – a block from the previously identified houses on Clinton.


It should be pointed out that this area is loaded with prairie style architecture from many architects (including Wright apprentices).  In 2013 the Village of River Forest Historic Preservation Commission issued a report cataloging all historic properties in the community.  That report continued to credit these “newly discovered” Wright homes to Harry Robinson – including this new find at 715 Clinton Place (photographed on March 29, 2016).


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715 Clinton Place


Just to show how confusing all of this can be, here is a neighboring house that is not claimed to be a Wright design:


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719 Clinton Place – not claimed to be by Wright – attributed to John S. Van Bergen

The white house to the right is 715 Clinton Place




Clinton Place – all claimed to be Wright


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609 Clinton Place



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625 Clinton Place


William Street – all claimed to be Wright


Only one house on this block of 26 structures has not been claimed to be Wright’s – the corner house at 706 William.  Our tour begins on the even side of the street.


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710 William Street


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714 William Street


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718 William Street


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722 William Street


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726 William Street


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730 William Street


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734 William Street


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738 William Street


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742 William Street


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746 William Street



750 William Street


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754 William Street


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754 William Street (details)


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755 William Street


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751 William Street


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747 William Street


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743 William Street


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739 William Street


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735 William Street


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731 William Street


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727 William Street


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723 William Street


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719 William Street


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715 William Street


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711 William Street


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707 William Street


New 08/20/2014

Revised 05/08/2016