B. Harley Bradley House
Frank Lloyd Wright,1900
“The B. Harley Bradley and Warren Hickox houses are widely considered the ‘first Prairie houses,’ in which practically every vestige of Victorian architecture was left behind.”
Frank Lloyd Wright designs the Bradley House for B. Harley and Anna M. (Hickox) Bradley, and the Warren R. Hickox House next door for Anna’s brother.
The Bradley House is acquired by real estate promoter A E Cook in a property trade that takes the Bradley family to Onawa, Iowa.
Joseph H. Dodson purchases the house. The colorful bird enthusiast transforms the stable into a birdhouse factory.
Following Mr. Dodson's death, the property is deeded to his secretary, Lillian “Babe” Nelis, who assisted in the operation of the birdhouse business.
Local businessman and entrepreneur Edwin (Ed) P. Bergeron and his wife Alice purchase the property. Plans for family use of the house were considered but never materialized. They connected with the next owners, who were operating The Holiday House restaurant in Michigan.
Marvin Hammack and Ray Schimel purchase the Bradley House and convert the private residence into a restaurant and inn. For 30 years, The Yesteryear is a favorite dining location.
The restaurant is purchased by partners Richard Murray of Kankakee and Bradley Hockholder of Stillwater, Minnesota. The business fails.
The Chicago Tribune reports "Financial Problems Eat Away at Historic Home in Kankakee." Art glass and Wright design fixtures are removed and sold through the years.
Steven B. Small, well-known Kankakee businessman, purchases the property in an attempt to save the Bradley House and begin restoration. The house is roofed, saving it from immediate effects of the elements. Mr, Small dies tragically in a botched kidnapping attempt and his widow eventually sells the property.
Attorneys Lee Thacker, Robert LaBeau, and Michael Dietchwiler and architect Ron Moline purchase the Bradley House. The house is converted into an offices. The carriage house is not included in the remodeling and continues in a severely neglected state.
Gaines and Sharon Hall acquire the property to save and restore it when the carriage house comes under threat of demolition. By the end of 2005 the carriage house is restored to its original design and opened as a gift shop.
Wright in Kankakee, a not-for-profit community group, is formed with the mission to acquire the house and open it to the public as an arts and education center. In 2010 the Halls and Wright In Kankakee reach a purchase agreement that opens the house to the public and gives the not-for-profit 10 years to raise the funds to finalize the purchase. The group takes possession June 30 and opens the house for its first public tour July 16.