Frank Lloyd Wright fans rejoice: the master architect's Emil Bach House opened in April as a luxury vacation rental and event space. On a recent guided tour of the renovated property, a bit of Wright's dark side emerged along the way.
Built in 1915 for the president of a brick company and now owned by Jennifer Pritzker's Tawani Enterprises, the Bach residence is the only urban Wright house that the public can inhabit—for $1,495 per night. Cantilevers shield the inside from the street, giving the house a secluded feel despite its location on high-traffic Sheridan Road. Wright "built it in a dark period in his life," property manager Wayde Cartwright explains. The architect had just lost his mistress, Mamah Borthwick, who was among seven murdered by a servant at Wright's Taliesin estate in 1914. "He wanted to be away from the city," Cartwright says.
The main entry is located at the rear of the house. Upon entering, we pass through a series of nooks until the home reveals a free-flowing communal space that serves as the living room, family room, and dining room. The guest rooms feel like hideaways from the outside world, though there are windows. "You can see outside really well," Cartwright says, "but because of the height of the house, people outside can't see inside." Wright outfitted many of his homes with art glass, and the Bach home follows suit, although the pieces installed in the bedrooms are re-creations; the originals are on display at the Art Institute.
The home once looked out over Lake Michigan. Construction over the years has since obstructed the view, but a pool house built by a previous owner has been adapted into a Japanese-style teahouse to offer a laid-back atmosphere. As we lounge in the teahouse bar overlooking the property's serene gardens, Cartwright asks, "Can you imagine yourself in here having a nice drink, relaxing in the summertime?"