By Sigurd Neubauer
He was occasionally referred to by some Americans as “the foremost social rebel” of his time. The-one-and-only Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) is widely considered to be the most important American architect of the twentieth century; New York City’s Guggenheim Museum is perhaps his most famous work, although its construction was marred in controversy. But despite all the obstacles he faced, Wright prevailed every time. The architect himself was also a man of tremendous controversy; it wasn’t just about his revolutionary ideas of what a home – or building – could look like, but it was also how he lived a life of unabating scandals.
History has been kind to Wright. Now that 63 years have passed since his death, the architect has firmly secured his place in history: Eight of his designed buildings mark the first modern architecture designation on the UNESCO World Heritage List in the United States, according to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
It is not often that any of his properties go on the market, but when they do, they’re often snapped up immediately.
If you’re an admirer of the Great American – a once in a lifetime opportunity to secure two his homes – has presented itself; both properties are in Galesburg, Michigan. And they’re both sold together by owners Marika Broere and Tony Hillebrandt. The homes are known as the Eppstein House, and the Pratt House.
Frank Lloyd Wright was considered by some as ‘the foremost social rebel’ of his time. Photo credit: Avery Archives/Columbia University
History has been kind to Wright: Eight of his designed buildings mark the first modern architecture designation on the UNESCO World Heritage List in the United State
Never in the history of Wright architecture have two neighboring homes been offered, together, in one sale — the Samuel & Dorothy Eppstein and the Eric & Pat Pratt homes.
The 1953 Eppstein House is gracious and welcoming with its low-slung profile, horizontal lines, and expansive windows that truly marry outdoor-indoor living.
The 1951 Pratt House beckons with its distinctive design, featuring clean lines, and meticulously restored mahogany exterior.
In a wide-ranging interview with Broere, a native of The Netherlands, who purchased the Eppstein House along with her husband, Hillebrandt, in 2005, we discuss what made the home special and some of her most cherished memories. A few years later, they purchased the neighboring Pratt House. The two homes are located in the prestigious The Galesburg Country Homes, which is also known as ‘The Acres’ community on a beautiful 70-acre setting.
“We bought the Eppstein House as a vacation home, including for our children and friends. Although we were new to the Kalamazoo area, we immediately made many friends who are equally interested in arts and architecture, as well as with those who grew up in the homes and those to help maintain them,” Broere explains.
“We have fond memories of spending time in the houses with friends where we enjoyed each other’s company, including long conversations about Frank Lloyd Wright and architecture in general,” she recalls.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Please describe your initial decision to purchase the properties. And why are you choosing to sell them now?
When we moved to Canada 18 years ago, we started to venture into the United States regularly to explore and learn more about Wright’s architecture. We never thought, however, that we could ever afford to acquire one of his houses. When we discovered that the Eppstein House was for sale, it was in very bad condition, which enabled us to purchase it for a fairly modest sum. We bought it to restore it, and then kept it as a second home.
When the Pratt House came up for sale a few years later, we were thrilled to acquire it as well; and we brought it to its former glory… and beyond! The process of restoring, and once finished, sharing the two homes with photographers, architects, writers, and also Airbnb guests from all over the world, was an amazing adventure. But, now that we’re aging, we have decided that it is time to sell the homes even though it pains our hearts. Selling them is one of the hardest decisions I ever faced.
Why are you selling both properties together?
The fact that the houses were built at the same time and are only steps away from each other on adjacent lots make them even more special. For a buyer, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He or she can use the homes for so many different goals. They can live in one and use the other for rental income; or as a guesthouse for family and friends; or for business purposes. The houses are rare pieces of art as they are beautifully restored, and technically updated to match the conveniences of the twenty-first century.
These houses exemplify Wright’s signature design principles, seamlessly blending nature, form, and function.
Marika Broere and Tony Hillebrandt are selling their two Frank Lloyd Wright homes. Photo credit: Courtesy
What has the response been since putting them on the market?
The response is overwhelming. It has only been a week since we put the homes on the market, yet the news has traveled as far as Japan, Australia, and Europe. It is hard to predict where the eventual buyer will come from, but our main goal is to find a custodian for the homes who will respect Wright’s legacy and who will keep the homes in excellent conditions for many years to come.
Too often it happens, unfortunately, that people purchase a Wright house out of passion, but never realize how much the restoration would cost in dollars, time, and perseverance. They start off enthusiastically but soon give up, and sometimes leave the house in a worse condition after having had it for only a couple of years. Now that we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade the Eppstein House and Pratt House, the future owner will be able to enjoy many years without having to do much upkeep.
Each home was constructed by the original homeowners, under the supervision of Wright himself. As such, the iconic properties are meticulously crafted, and thoughtfully restored between 2016 and 2021.
Please tell us about your family?
We moved from The Netherlands to Canada 2005 with our (then) teen aged children. Ontario, Canada, is where all of them live but we travel extensively, including to Europe for vacations.
Listing and pricing
The Acres is a historic landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. The Acres is conveniently located halfway between Detroit and Chicago, with Grand Rapids airport at 65 miles distance, Kalamazoo airport at 11 miles, and Battle Creek at 16 miles.
The asking price for the pair is $4.5 million. The listing agents are Victoria Krause Schutte of @properties Christie’s International Real Estate in Oak Park and Fred Taber of Jaqua Realtors in Portage, Michigan.
The Acres is a historic landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. The new owners will enjoy the tranquility, privacy, shared community spaces, and the pride of being part of a unique legacy: Broere
Never in the history of Wright architecture have two neighboring homes been offered, together, in one sale -- the Samuel & Dorothy Eppstein and the Eric & Pat Pratt homes