John Van Bergen design:

James Irving Residence, Wilmette & Evanston, Illinois


Some treats come along once in a lifetime.  For example, I was fortunate to watch a FLW design being built from the ground up (the Visitor Center at Florida Southern College).  Another rare treat was seeing a prairie house cut up into pieces to be moved to a new location.


Growing up in Oak Park, John Van Bergen was influenced by neighbors’ houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  He later went to work at Wright’s Oak Park studio and was an essential part of the team that designed and built the Robie House (S.127) and the Mrs. Thomas Gale House (S.098).  When Wright went to Europe, Van Bergen remained to wind down the Oak Park operations.  He eventually shifted to working with William Drummond and, in 1911, established his own practice, with an emphasis on prairie-style homes.


His design for James Irving was executed in 1928 at 1318 Isabella Street in Wilmette and is credited as an interpretation of Wright’s Isabel Roberts residence (S.150).


In 2014 the owner of the land had other plans for his land.  Rather than destroy the house, though, he offered to have it moved to a new lot in Evanston.  While that lot was being prepared, the house was cut into pieces and trucked for storage to a parking lot at the corner of Isabella and Green Bay Road.  There I found it on a dark autumn night.


Photographed on October 18, 2014.








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Comparison: Irving (Van Bergen) and Roberts (Wright):


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New 10/28/2014