GALESBURG, Mich. (WOOD) — Husband-wife pair Tony Hillebrandt and Marika Broere have been flipping homes for years, but two Galesburg-area homes were extra special to them because of the famous architect who designed them.
“When we moved to North America, we started to explore more and more and more about Frank Lloyd Wright,” Broere said. “Never have we thought that we could actually own the house for ourselves.”
In fact, they owned not just one, but two Wright-designed homes on Hawthorne Avenue, which were both listed together Sept. 15 for a total price of $4.5 million.
The pair from Montreal purchased the Pratt home in 2020 and the Eppstein home in 2016. In total, they invested four years of rehabilitating work on the decades-old homes to the point where they look well preserved, which was hard in itself.
“The electrical is all up to date, but … (there) are cement blocks that were handmade, so the biggest part was running new electrical through here,” said realtor Fred Taber. “(With) the water lines in the floor, this is radiant floor heating, so not much you can do to change that without ripping the floors out.”
“We did not change anything about the footprint of these homes. That was, I think, our number one goal,” Broere added. “Some of these homes have had additions built to them, and we didn’t want to do anything to that.”
Taber, who works at West Michigan-based Jaqua Realtors, and Victoria Krause Schutte, from @properties Christie’s International out of Illinois, are the realtors tasked with selling the two homes.
Each house features at least 2,000 square feet, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and some of the original furniture designed by Wright still attached. Their open floor concepts and design aspects were forward-thinking for the 1940s.
“Usonian was a simple style,” Taber explained. “You have the cantilevered carports, so there’s no garage … the radiant floor heat … it was all unheard of at the time.”
Hildebrandt and Broere did not live in the homes, but they still made good use of them.
“(The Eppstein home) was the Airbnb … for about three years. It stayed busy quite a bit. I think they did about $150,000 in their best year,” Taber said. “They had a phenomenal five-star ‘super host’ rating. They were tremendous hosts, that’s for sure.”
Now sellers as of last week, the couple is eager to see how the future owners of these significant structures leave their own history here.
“It is like classic cars. It is like paintings,” Hillebrandt said. “Now we are at the level, and it is our luck that the house is … wanted by a certain group of people.”
“Not necessarily as houses to live in, but as pieces of art to be preserved for the future,” Broere added.
The listing for the homes can be found here.