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.
1900: Frank Lloyd Wright designs the Bradley House for B. Harley and Anna M. (Hickox) Bradley, and the Warren R. Hickox Jr. House next door (Anna’s brother).
1913: Real estate promoter A. E. Cook acquires the House in a property trade that takes the Bradley family to Onawa, Iowa.
1915: Joseph H. Dodson trades other properties for the House. The colorful bird enthusiast transforms the Stable into a birdhouse factory.
1949: Following Mr. Dodson’s death, the property is deeded to his secretary, Lillian “Babe” Nelis, who assisted in the operation of the birdhouse business.
1951: Local businessman and entrepreneur Edwin (Ed) P. Bergeron and his wife Alice purchase the property. Plans for family use were considered but never materialized. They connected with the next owners, who were operating the Holiday House restaurant in Michigan.
1954: 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.
1983: The restaurant is purchased by partners Richard Murray of Kankakee and Bradley Hockholder of Stillwater, Minnesota; the business is not successful and closes.
1986: Steven B. Small, well-known Kankakee businessman, purchases the property and begins restoration, including re-roofing the House. Mr. Small dies tragically in a botched kidnapping attempt and his widow eventually sells the property.
1990: Attorneys Lee Thacker, Robert LaBeau, and Michael Dietchwiler, along with architect Ron Moline, purchase the House and convert it for offices. The carriage house continues its earlier deterioration.
2005: Gaines and Sharon Hall acquire the landmark property to save and restore it. By the end of 2005 the Stable/Carriage House is restored to its original design and is adapted for a gift shop.
2009: Wright In Kankakee, a not-for-profit community organization, 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.