Building & History


Our Historic Building

Architect George W. Maher designed and built this building in 1912 as a home for Mr. and Mrs. James Hall Taylor and their family. They paid $30,000 for the house and 1 1/2 acre site, a large sum in 1912. They lived and raised their family here until their deaths in 1951 and 1963 respectively.

Their children sold the house and grounds to Unity Church in 1965 for $84,000.

The style of the house is "Early Modern Rectilinear." It is broad, monumental, and dignified. Its Prairie Style characteristics include a hipped roof, pronounced horizontal features and bands of windows under deep eaves. When entering by the front door, the first thing you see is the beautiful arched window on the first floor landing. The geometric design on this window is repeated on all of the leaded windows and doors throughout the building. It is also repeated on the wall sconces and hall ceiling light.

The Building's Architect

The architect was George Maher.  He was born in 1864 and began architectural training when he was only fourteen in the Chicago office of Joseph Silsbee.   Frank Lloyd Wright was a colleague in 1887 and 1888 when he also worked for Mr. Silsbee.  They both left Silsbee in 1888.   

Maher opened his own office and was very successful designing Patten Gymnasium and Swift Hall at Northwestern University, Sears school in Kenilworth and hundreds of residences on the North Shore.  He designed Pleasant Home, now owned by the Oak Park Park District. 

Maher wrote many papers for architectural journals and was President of the Chicago Architects' Association in 1918.  He originated the "motif-rhythm" theory. He put it to use in this house in the art glass windows and fixtures.  The Hasbrouck-Sprague "Survey of Historic Architecture in Oak Park" lists our center to be of national or international significance and states that it "demonstrates a perfection of shape, form and plan which Maher was never to excel."