On the heels of the sale of the famous “public wing” of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Coonley House in Riverside last month, another residence on the grounds of the once sprawling estate is on the market.
The estate’s former coach house, 336 Coonley Road, which was converted into a single-family home in the 1950s and completely renovated by its present owner, Ella Mae Eastman and her late husband Dean, in 2006-07, is listed for $1.1 million.
Although it was part of the original estate, which was built between 1906 and 1912, and retains the long, horizontal lines of Wright’s signature Prairie Style, the residence itself is contemporary inside – from its mechanical systems and new radiant floor heating to the open-plan kitchen/dining area, large family room and three bedrooms with en suite bathrooms.
“It’s not a 100-year-old house; it’s basically a new house,” said Ella Mae Eastman during a tour of her home last week.
The Eastmans rescued the coach house, just as they’d rescued and restored the Coonley House’s public wing during the first decade of the 2000s. Their stewardship, however, followed in the footsteps of the couple who saved the entire estate from demolition and redevelopment a half century earlier.
Carolyn and James Howlett were the ones who convinced a developer to convert the Coonley Estate’s outbuildings into residences, taking on the coach house as their particular project.
The Howletts lived in the coach house until their deaths – James in 2000 and Carolyn in 2006. The Eastmans had purchased the coach house from Carolyn’s estate in 2005. Suffering from Alzheimer’s, Carolyn Howlett’s affairs were being handled by the Cook County Public Guardian.
The coach house was in disrepair and needed a new roof. The Eastmans intervened to prevent the building’s essential character from being altered, buying the home and allowing Carolyn to live there until her death.
After that, the Eastmans embarked on a complete overhaul of not only the home but its grounds, including restoring its private interior garden with a reflecting pool framed by beds of irises and uncovering raised planters original to the estate but camouflaged under debris and overgrowth.
The Eastmans put the renovated coach house on the market for the first time in 2008 for $1.6 million, but they eventually moved from the main home into the coach house as they attempted to sell the much larger residence.
“It was more public that house, and we shared it a lot with people, and I actually enjoyed that. It was fun meeting people and having events there,” Ella Mae Eastman said. “This [coach house] is just more private, more personal.”
Although far smaller than the public wing of the main home, the coach house still checks in at about 2,300 square feet, though it’s all on one level.
In addition to the newly renovated space, the new buyer will also inherit some select pieces of furniture, like the custom-made circular sofa (designed by a grandson of the Coonleys, Winthrop Faulkner) in the formal living room, which looks out onto the garden.
Also staying with the home is a wood sculpture made by Carolyn Howlett from pieces of an original fence from the estate and an abstract painting by Howlett that now is displayed in the dining area.
“I think it should be with the house,” Eastman said.
The new owners will also inherit a pair of sculptures in the garden, “Adam and Eve” by Chicago sculptor Egon Weiner, perhaps best known for his “Pillar of Fire” sculpture outside the Chicago Fire Academy.