1970s Lincoln Park house for sale for first time

Now one of the city's most eminent architects, Larry Booth was in his 30s when he designed the home for a pair of real estate figures.

A modern house of glass, brick and wood on a triangular corner in Lincoln Park is on the market for the first time since Larry Booth, now one of Chicago’s most eminent architects, designed it in the early 1970s.

The house, on the corner of Cleveland, Lincoln and Dickens avenues, is being put up for auction by the family of its original owners, veteran developer George Thrush and his late wife, fellow real estate executive Mary Thrush.

The couple commissioned Booth to design the house when he was 35 years old and both he and they were active in their generation’s revitalization of the Lincoln Park neighborhood. The house was finished in 1976.

Since 1980, Booth's firm, Booth Hansen, has designed numerous projects in and around Chicago, including the rehab of the old Palmolive/Playboy building into condos, the Joffrey Tower on State Street and the Hayden West Loop, a hot-selling condo development. When designing the Thrushes' house, Booth was a young architect who would soon become known as one of the Chicago Seven, who rejected the austerity of the modernist style epitomized by Mies van der Rohe’s buildings.

For the Thushes, Booth designed a four-bedroom house with two stories of glass in the main living room along Cleveland, a central staircase with white pipe handrails like those on an ocean liner and a master bedroom window on the point of the building that frames a downtown skyline view.

The rectilinear modern structure is a departure from the historical red brick houses and rowhouses on Cleveland, which include one designed in 1884 by Louis Sullivan.

“My parents always loved the house,” said Blair Thrush Lele, the couple’s daughter, a real estate agent at Engel & Volkers who is managing the sale for her family. The arrangement of solid walls and windows “has all this light coming inside from these tall windows and connection to the outdoors, but you still have privacy,” she said.

The entry is at sidewalk level, but the main living floor is one flight up, and on that level are two terraces, one off the library and another off the kitchen. There is also a ground-level yard, tucked between the house and its neighbor on Cleveland.

The house goes up for auction Aug. 11 through Chicago firm Rick Levin & Associates, with a minimum bid of $1.25 million. The auction has an unpublished reserve, meaning there’s a minimum price below which the sellers don’t plan to go, but they aren’t divulging it. Even so, Levin said, “I have a great deal of confidence that they’ll sell to the highest bidder.”

George Thrush’s development firm, Thrush, was active in Lincoln Park, where in the 1980s it made headlines in the Chicago Tribune with half-million-dollar homes in the neighborhood, in River North and in other redeveloping neighborhoods. Now in his 90s, he moved out of the house recently, according to his daughter. Mary Thrush died last year.

The house has no landmark status. A buyer could replace it with a condominium building or other new structure. The sidewalk level of the southern end of the house, nearest the intersection, is an apartment that Lele Thrush said rents for about $950 a month.

Dennis Rodkin, Crain's Chicago