Frank E. Long, a publisher from downstate Illinois, was born in 1865. By the standards of the time, he was already an elderly man when he commissioned architect Leon Stanhope to design his house in 1924. Long began his career downstate working for a manufacturer of agricultural implements and became the company's representative for publicity in Chicago, necessitating a move to the area. He eventually became vice president of operations. One of the company's publications lists Long's hobbies as motoring and fishing. He lived in several Oak Park homes before hiring Stanhope to build the 401 Linden Avenue house.
In a suburb made famous for Prairie design and Frank Lloyd Wright residences, the Long House stands apart in its architectural heritage. The cottage style home looks as if it should be sitting on a rolling hill in the English countryside, rather than the western suburbs of Chicago.
Leon Stanhope, the Chicago-based architect behind the Long House's singular style, was a contemporary of Wright, but rather than embracing the new Prairie Style, he looked back in time in designing a home that combines the charm of a pastoral dwelling with the grandeur expected of a home in the estate section of Oak Park.
The wavy roof has earned the home the nickname the "hobbit house" because of its resemblance to a tiny dwelling that seems to rise from the ground, sporting a roof made of natural materials. While the home's distinctive roof appears to be made of thatching, it is, in reality, constructed of wood.
Often, these types of roofs are made up of steamed cedar shingles, which have the ability to be shaped in curved formations. A custom gutter system and a certain amount of creative underlying construction are also required to support the heavy materials.
The roof is a large part of what makes the Long House an example of the storybook style that was popular for a brief time in the 1920s. Very few homes of this style were built in the western suburbs and the Long House's large size makes it unique for what is usually considered a style represented by much smaller homes.
The house has four bedrooms and 4 1/2 baths which sits on 0.83 acres. It's 3,722 square feet sold in 2014 for $1,800,617.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.