Published Nov. 17, 2011
Zook home and studio a Hinsdale treasure
Historical society excited about efforts
to open buildings to public, but funds are still needed
By Pamela Lannom
restore the Zook home and studio is a bit like piecing
together a puzzle and a bit like going on a treasure
The two buildings, which architect R. Harold Zook built for his
family in 1924 at 327 S. Oak St., were saved from
demolition six years ago by the Hinsdale Historical
Society. Now the group’s project is to raise about $1
million to restore both buildings, which were moved to
Katherine Legge Memorial Park.
“The intent for the home is to have it be available for community
use,” said Shannon Weinberger, president of the
historical society. “The studio will house our Zook
collection and resources and provide and opportunity for
Zook homeowners to come in and blog and talk.”
Some $800,000 already has been raised. About a third of that amount
went toward moving the house, which had to be cut into
“They put it back within an eighth of an inch,” Weinberger said.
Since then, work has been done a bit at a time.
“We’re doing it as funds come in,” Weinberger said. “When we have
funds for a specific project, then we start to work on
that project. Paul (Primeau, project manager/contractor)
has done a phenomenal job of breaking the project up in
So far the home has been stabilized structurally, additions have
been removed, modern utilities have been installed, the
exterior masonry has been repaired, the fireplace has
been stripped, the windows have been removed and cleaned
and a new roof has been installed.
“There’s so much that goes into everything we do over there.
Nothing is ‘order it from a catalog and put it in.’ It’s
all custom and sometimes it takes finding the right
people to do the right job,” she said.
The undulating cedar shingle roof is an excellent example. The
society hired a Florida company to install the roof with
rolled eaves, which resembles a thatched roof.
“It truly takes having an artistic eye to do it,” Primeau said.
“You’re into having a craftsman as opposed to a
tradesman putting your roof on.”
Much of the work inside the home has involved removing things like
closets that were not original or kitchen cabinets that
had been moved.
Primeau discovered plans for the home on microfiche at village
hall, which have been very helpful. And there is some
learning as you go.
“Just taking apart different parts of the house and looking at it,
you can tell the history,” he said.
For those who appreciate older homes, the discoveries that come
during disassembly are exciting. Among the most
interesting finds in the home was gold leaf on the walls
in a second floor bedroom.
“When we found that gold leaf, we were all emailing back and
forth,” Weinberger said.
Zook built very unique homes. This one has 14 different levels —
four or five just on the group floor. There also was a
ladder that went from the entryway closet up to the
“There is quite a bit of unexpected in the house,” Primeau said.
“There is not the predictability you see in modern
Work on the studio is further along. With the society’s Zook
materials to eventually be housed on the second floor,
the first floor will be used for programs or special
“We’re very close to having all the funds to finish this,”
The chance to move the home and studio next door to another Zook
structure, the KLM Lodge, was irresistible, historical
society board member Bob Saigh said. Adding the
buildings to the inventory of wonderful space available
for use in the community — from Immanuel Hall to private
homes to churches to public buildings — will add to the
village as a whole, he said.
“It’s really a treat for individuals and organizations, when you
think of it that way,” Saigh said. “Those kinds of
things do add to the richness of community endeavors.”
Zook homes in Hinsdale
How many houses R. Harold
Zook built in Hinsdale is a difficult question to
“At one point somebody guessed that maybe there were 30 plus in
town,” Hinsdale Historical Society Board President
Shannon Weinberger said. “The tricky thing about a Zook
is nobody really knows if they are Zooks. He didn’t
really keep records. The way we know a Zook is a Zook is
people have the original blueprints. Lila (Self, Zook
homeowner and expert) spent a lot of time recognizing
Zooks in town.”
Most homes, even if they don’t resemble a Zook on the outside,
contain some of his characteristic features: multiple
levels, a spiderweb pattern, exposed beams, chevron
patterns, beamed cathedral ceilings and small,
irregularly shaped rooms.
He is most famous for English Cotswold-style houses, but he also
designed buildings in the Tudor and Georgian styles.
“They are very charming houses and they are really fun,” Weinberger
said. “It would be really interesting to live in one. I
imagine kids would love them, too.”
Making a Difference is a yearlong partnership
The Hinsdalean and the Hinsdale Historical Society,
which works to collect, preserve and promote the
village’s history and its architecture.