the Hall House, Harvard, IL

 
 
 

The Hall House is a solid, stone and brick 2-story Prairie-style home, with basement and walk-in attic, built in a time when telephones were rare, electricity was only seen in cities, and even in town, people had their own water wells and cisterns.  Architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Myron Hunt were designing houses to be lived in as well as looked at, and designing-in features to accommodate the flow of everyday life.  The Hall House has many interesting period features, some easily missed without the context of the day, and is now, as it was then, a very practical and pleasant house to live in.


The house has a large, wrap-around front porch where people could sit in the evening under the shade of the “Lone Oak” (as designated on the architect’s drawings), and a covered side porch where they could sit in the daytime to enjoy the breeze. There is a sheltered built-in stone bench beside the front door, where visitors who arrived when the residents were out could wait for them out of the weather.  (Most people didn’t have telephones, so they couldn’t call ahead.  If they couldn’t wait, they left a calling card.)  There is a sitting area off the front foyer with a view of the elegant oak stairwell to the second floor, where a suitor could sit while being grilled by the father of the house while he waited for his date to get ready and make her grand entrance - the suitor couldn’t call ahead or honk his horn in the driveway in those days.  (My aunt, who was dating in that era, explained this custom to me, especially the part about the “grilling”.)  There’s a speaking tube connecting the master bedroom to the kitchen.  The entrances into several rooms and areas use the Frank Lloyd Wright signature technique of first lowering the ceiling, then opening it back up as you enter the area to increase the impression of size.  The list goes on.


These pages share some memories and information about the house.

The Hall House is located near downtown Harvard, IL.  The primary architect was Myron Hunt, a partner of Frank Lloyd Wright on La Salle St. in Chicago. The home was commissioned by Woodstock lumber yard owner and one time Harvard mayor William D. Hall. Construction began in 1902, and the house was occupied in 1903 by the Hall family. The home is plaqued by the McHenry County Historical Society as a historical house.  It still retains its original character.

A Genteel Turn-of-the-19th-Century Home