Tale Of Two Characters – Van East and Frank Lloyd Wright

In relation to a post regarding the sale of the above Van East SFH for $1.45M, commenters were debating what constitutes a ‘character’ home. The example below care of ‘FML Listings‘ (a Toronto RE blog). We’d say this was a character home:

Thomas H. Gale House, Oak Park(West Chicago), Illinois
Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Built: 1892
Asking price: $1,295,000
HOUSE HISTORY: Wright’s design for this house was derived from the more expensive residence he had designed earlier in 1892 for Robert Emmond of LaGrange, Illinois. This home and its twin, the Robert Parker house, were built later that same year by Realtor Thomas Gale.
The Gale and Parker Houses are of interest for what they reveal about Wright’s development as an architect. Their irregular composition, consisting of octagonal bays joined to a rectangular core, the whole covered by high-pitched roofs with octagonal dormers, reflect the style of design of Wright’s first teacher, Joseph Silsbee. The influence of Louis Sullivan, especially his philosophy of “geometric simplification”, is seen in the taut masses of these houses, made clear when contrasted with the more ample rounded forms of true Queen Anne designs so popular at that time.
The Thomas Gale house has been completely restored and updated. A new ‘off footprint’ addition include an expanded kitchen and master bathroom, each designed to blend into Wright’s original design.

There you have it.
Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago: $1.3M
Van East SFH: $1.45M
– vreaa

40 responses to “Tale Of Two Characters – Van East and Frank Lloyd Wright

  1. Basement Suite

    I gotta be honest that green one looks pretty cool ^_^.

    • Basement Suite

      Oh no wonder it does, I should have realized that green one would be 5 or 10 million in this stupid city. Well it sure is a real character home, awesome. The Vancouver ghetto shack on the other hand… Not so much.

  2. Character? You want character?… How about this, for not much more than half the cost of a YVR East ‘craftsman’ [USD 875K]…


    The actual listing appears on Page 4 of the following site [which does not support direct hyperlinks and may request a login]:


  3. Talk about characters… the characters at TD are now telling us that they’re noticing “danger” in the “bubble.”

    Took long enough:


    • Best comment under that CBC TD article… and one that I identify with.

      via @Jim-Bob (2012/03/16 at 10:32 AM ET): “As a couple in our mid 30’s, we find it very difficult to keep living within our means. Most of our friends make less money than we do and they take trips, buy campers, have new cars or have half million dollar homes or ALL OF THE ABOVE.

      It’s tough to see these people enjoying life and luxuries so much. We find some comfort in knowing our finances are in order and that there will be a reckoning.”

      • “Reckoning.”

        So very interesting. And so very biblical. Buyers today buy on faith and nothing but faith – faith that the bubble god will propel this 666 beast to the heavens. Meanwhile, Jim-Bob calls for a day of reckoning.

        God, *truly* thy name is real estate.

      • Hey Gord, the Lord shall provide. I converted to the Church of Bear long ago, my only idol the invisible hand. From my observation the longest lasting cults provide magnitude of an impending apocalypse but are a bit cagey on the timing. Just ask Harold Camping.

        I’m happy to report our sect is still in fine order. And the end is nigh. Prepare yourself.

  4. too much fun. f1 or realty chick care to spin some straw here?

    • Yeah I will. i have been to Oak Park. It is actually a fair ways out from the core of Chicago. it would be equivalent to maybe the Queen’s Park neighbourhood of New West. Why don’t you post the price of sfh’s with property in the center of Chicago for a fair comparison if you can find any

  5. Vancouver is the new Chicago

  6. Oh, it’s so difficult to find something comparable to all the “character” in Vancouver properties. 🙄
    How about this one for CAD$1million : http://bit.ly/yHupVB How does it compare to the East Van beauty?

    • It’s DISGUSTING!! Look at all that space. And those blue skies. And all that castle stuff. YUCK!!

      Gimme back my slum.

  7. I’ve been in that area of south Chicago before. It’s very creepy and I wouldn’t want to be out at night. The train ride downtown passes over areas with abandoned and bulldozed lots aplenty.

  8. Nem:

    Found something like that in the desert in Mex once, only it was filled with water. The desert sun warmed it up nicely, and we were pretty dirty from days in the desert, so, we climbed in a washed down.

    Of course, it was a water supply for a local hotel…. 🙂

    • OldHabits are hard to break, Senor Caballero!… For erstwhile ‘Sons of the Waves’, there’s nothing more comforting than minimalist architecture inspired by ChobhamArmour and situated in the middle of… nowhere.

      “It is recognized that you have a ‘funny’ sense of fun.”

      …”Why do you like the desert?”

      “Because it’s clean.” – Lawrence of Arabia

      PS – Senor, I am remiss… haven’t GoneCoastal in ages… will redress that… Soon! You must have a ‘multi’ “ATR” by now!

    • Erratum: ATPL

  9. West side Chicago, east side Vancouver.
    Well-heeled jet-setters have officially jumped the shark

    Question, would you rather live in a house designed by a builder or an architect? I’m going with the former but maybe I’m not showing enough class.

    • Doesn’t matter. Both are likely built from shitty materials.

    • Ditto. Architectural houses are difficult (expensive) to maintain and tend to date themselves. Every carpie worth his salt knows how to work on a builder-designed house and the classics never go out of style.

      Neil Young or Foster the People?

      • Aldus Huxtable

        Terrible comparison Foster The People are architects of absolutely nothing.

        I’ll give you your Neil Young and replace the second with Genesis.

    • Oak Park is a suburb of Chicago and Frank Lloyd Wright can be an acquired taste as it’s not to everyone’s likeing

  10. I know the East Van house. I drive by it everyday on my way home. It’s a nice house and the owners have done a great job. History: It was sold in July 2010 for just under $600K. The owners did a complete renovation, including raising the house. I estimate the cost of the work to be $400K. So they walk away with $450K (less carrying and transaction costs) after just under two years of owning it. Good for them. However, is it worth $1.45 million? (it was listed at $1.35 million). I guess to someone it was. That’s the insanity when you compare what you can get in other parts of the world.

  11. Joe_Blown_Away_By_High_Housing_Costs

    4 Must-read Vancouver Sun articles:

    1. “$10k home-buyer bonus sure to spur first-timers: mortgage expert”


    “The new $10,000 bonus for first-time buyers of new homes will likely help a lot of potential buyers make the leap into the real estate market, a mortgage expert says…I think it will definitely make it easier for people to get into the real estate market and if they’re thinking about it, that might be the deciding factor…A lot of people are surprised at how much they can afford when they actually sit down with someone…McKinley said Vancity also has a “mixer mortgage” where roommates can go together to buy a home they wouldn’t be able to buy otherwise.”

    Gee roommates sharing a mortgage…that sounds like it will go well. I used to fight with my roommate over who would wash the dishes.

    2. “Spending on homes has been a prudent investment”


    “One of the dirty little secrets of financial analysis is that you can “prove” that the very same asset is either expensive or cheap, simply by choosing different yardsticks to measure it. In the debate over Canada’s supposed housing bubble, you can make housing look expensive by looking at how home prices compare with annual incomes or with rents. In both cases, these ratios are now above their long-term aver-ages, suggesting housing is expensive. But you can also make home prices look cheap by comparing today’s aver-age mortgage payment with those of past years. In this case, homes look cheaper than in the past…Matthieu Arseneau, a senior economist with the National Bank, likes mortgage payments as the best yardstick. That’s because the evidence tells him that the rise of interest rates from today’s bargain-basement levels will be moderate. Based on this, he thinks it’s silly to foresee a housing crash, since monthly payments won’t get into distress territory even by the time rates peak in about three years…Most important, interest rates in Canada have stayed exceptionally low for a country that suffered a short, mild recession. But even so, Arseneau doesn’t believe this caused Canadians to borrow imprudently. Indeed, after measuring the extra borrowing capacity the low rates opened up, he notes that Canadians “are playing it safe” by leaving a lot of this potential untapped.”

    3. “B.C. housing sales slow for second month”


    “Looking ahead, activity will rise marginally in 2012. Recreational markets will receive a boost from the new transitional HST rebate which will pare down standing inventory, while competition between lenders for market share and associated declines in mortgage rates will attract some buyers into the market. The province’s recently announced first-time buyer tax credit of $10,000 should as well.”

    4. “Canada housing 10-15 pct over-valued, Vancouver at risk if lending not constrained”


  12. House Whisperer

    I would guess that the buyer are mid-30 husband and wife. A lawyer and an accountant or engineer. They probably put down $250K. All this can be found once the deal closes.

  13. 4SlicesofCheese

    Anyone know the sales history of 1221 e 33rd ave?
    Its for sale now less than a year from when it was last sold.


  14. For those who may be interested, we have previously contrasted another Frank Lloyd Wright house with a Vancouver home. See:

    ‘What are we thinking? – Frank Lloyd Wright Californian Home on 80 Acres compared with more expensive Dunbar Box on 0.15 Acres’

    VREAA 2 Dec 2012

  15. notsellingyet

    Thomas Gale house is beautiful to look at, but those octagonal parts need made-to-order furniture, unless one prefers lots of empty corners. A local architect, Loy Leyland, who must have been influenced by Mr. Wright, drew up the plans for my house when previous owners reno’d it. Thankfully, only 2 outside corners are not right-angle corners. There were several non-right-angle corners inside the house but those were re-framed into right-angle corners when I reno’d 2 years ago. Needless to say, Mr. Leyland was not involved in drawing up the plans for me–I could not afford him anyway. Use of space is more efficient now.

  16. I do agree however that neither house is a true character house.

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