A Little Time and a Keyboard: 6 Historic Homes to Visit in the Chicago Suburbs

6 Historic Homes to Visit in the Chicago Suburbs

Monday, September 29, 2014

Kennicott House the Grove
Sometimes, we can overlook a bit of history in our own neighborhoods. Often, there are wonderful treasures just around the corner! The Chicago suburbs are no strangers to history and have plenty historical gems to visit. Historical homes provide a way to take a look back at the past and witness how people once lived. Here is a peek at some of the unique historic homes that can be found in the Chicago suburbs:

Historic Homes Worth Exploring in the Chicago Suburbs

Muller House and Banta House in Arlington Heights

The Muller House and Banta House in Arlington Heights are a tucked away treasure. The Muller House is a joy to tour with many period items. You can actually still smell the fires that cooked so many meals in the past which is a neat little element. The home has been restored to represent that of an upper middle class family living between 1880 and 1900. The neighboring Banta House houses an impressive doll and dollhouse collection. Really an amazing collection to look at! The Banta House is  of particular note because it is the first architect designed home in Arlington Heights.

Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park

The Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park is Wright's first home and where he experimented with his Prairie Style of Architecture. The home was built in 1889 and has been restored to 1909. Not only can you tour the home but you can reserve combination tours with other Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie Style homes and the Unity Temple in Oak Park. The Unity Temple is in fact the only remaining public building in Wright's Prairie Style.

Kennicott House in Glenview

The Kennicott House in The Grove was built by Dr. John Kennicott in 1856 and has been restored back to the 1800's. Dr. Kennicott was a doctor, horticulturalist and educator. Dr. Kennicott's son, Robert, was a pioneer and naturalist. The home and nearby exhibit building contain family artifacts as well other period pieces. The Grove is a lovely natural space in its own right with plenty to explore including a nature center.

Naper Settlement in Naperville

Naper Settlement is a 19th century living history museum complete with 30 historical buildings and costumed interpreters. The Martin Mitchell Mansion on the grounds is a splendid example of Victorian Eclectic architecture. Naper Settlement has plenty of hands-on, experiential events throughout the year.

Fabyan Villa Museum and Japanese Gardens in Geneva

The Fabyan Villa originally served as a retreat away from the city for Colonel and Nelle Fabyan. In 1907, the Fabyan's hired  Frank Lloyd Wright to expand their original farmhouse. The home eventually grew to include gardens, fountains, a windmill, a lighthouse and more. Colonel Fabyan was involved in US-Japan relations, code breaking that helped in both World Wars and more. The home and grounds as well as the stories of the Fabyans are intriguing. Wrap that up with an example of Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Style and you have a little adventure!

Dawes House in Evanston

The Dawes House is the home of Vice President Charles Gate Dawes, Vice President to President Calvin Coolidge. The house was built in 1894-5 using the French chateaux style. The home features magnificent woodwork and has lakefront property. A tour includes admission to a permanent exhibition on Evanston history located on the second floor of the Dawes House.

A way to connect with the history of the suburbs

All of these homes are each of particular note in their own unique way. Additionally, they provide a way to connect with the history of the Chicago suburbs and the people that helped them grow. If you are interested in visiting, be sure to check out special Halloween, Thanksgiving or holiday happenings!


  1. I've only been to the Oak Park one - what a great list!!

  2. I love checking out the architecture wherever we travel! It's one of the best ways to learn a little bit about the history of an area and the people who once lived there.

  3. Would love touring any of these homes! Do all of them charge admission? Are all of them open regular hours? Or do you have to make an appointment?

    1. The Kennicott House does not charge admission. The Fabyan Villa has a suggested donation. The Frank Lloyd Wright home does have free tours on a couple days before the holidays. They all have hours but they can be sparse. Plus, sometimes they are rented out or being renovated, so I would definitely check availability first. (We like to go to the East Coast to visit my family in the spring for spring break but are always disappointed because most of the colonial homes are closed until later in the spring!)