Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The McNeal Home

Mr. Wright thought that the Ennis house would stand on a hill for 100 years. Perhaps he thought that because the house is built of concrete block; the house has withstood the test of earthquakes and floods and, while damaged, the house is still standing. But, other houses are less permanent.

Built of wood and stone, one reader of this blog informed me that the Playboy Pad was destroyed by a fire and that in its place a Prairie home now stands. He also informed me that Mark Zinni, an architect, remodeled the “Pad” while owned, I believe, by DePorter.

These comments lead to much thought about Don's homes and how permanent they have been. Don’s first home was one level and located in Palatine, Illinois. Given seed money from their parents, Don and Shirley built the home themselves, and with associates. A simple home with Taliesin red concrete floors, this is where Don’s first studio was located. Growing up together, two Chicago boys, Don and Richard stood at wooden drafting tables developing designs for business that slowly “arrived.” Even the Glores came to the Erickson home to share Wright’s plans and to consult with Don about the construction of their home.

Today, the Palatine home no longer exists nor was it an architectural masterpiece. It was Don’s first family home, a simple structure that sheltered a young family, an artist, and an architect.

Even Don’s Barrington home was once leveled by a tornado and rebuilt immediately after the debris was cleared from the land. Indomitable, Don and Shirley worked on the home, recruiting their children to lay brick and saw wood.

The award-winning Round House in Glen Ellyn no longer stands . . . the Gustafson home leveled to make room for a new addition to the neighboring home. . .

So, reflecting, I thought that I would tell you about a house that, while standing, is a shell in great need of repair. . .In fact, Richard, Chief Draftsperson to Don, who located the house on Irene Road and who worked on the plans, said, "To see the house would make you cry."

“Spiral stairs spins way through unique new home.”

“A spiral stairway designed by a master of his craft, 85 tons of Wisconsin natural rock, 10-foot sliding glass doors, and a dumb waiter to take the groceries from the garage to the kitchen are some of the feature of the area’s most unique new homes.”

Located on Irene Road, Belvidere, Illinois, the home was commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. Earl McNeal. “Four of the eight points of the house are done in natural rock hauled from near Tomahawk, Wisconsin” and constructed by stonemason Maynard Thorp."

“The entranceway has a floor of black stone imported from Mexico.”

“The house sort of surrounds the stairway…which is fabricated for steel, but looks more like sculpture, is supported on a foundation of its own within a 12-foot square piping running from the bare ground to the peak of the open-beamed Jamaican-style roof.”

One wonders what happened to the McNeals. . .

"Register-Star," Rockford, November 28, 1971. Byline: Doug Adams. Photo from article.

Please contact me, or provide comments on this page, if you would like to submit information that you may have on the work and/or its history. And, if you would like to contribute to championing the preservation of the Don Erickson Legacy, please email me at the address posted under my profile.

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