About Pleasant Home

Pleasant Home is considered one of the earliest and most distinguished examples of Prairie School Architecture in the nation, and is operated by the Pleasant Home Foundation as a living museum, which is open to the public and offers a year-round schedule of educational programs, community events and festivals and cultural performances.  

Pleasant Home was built over 100 years ago and is a tremendous resource for education, hands-on learning and demonstrating the impact that early Prairie School Architecture has on modern architecture, design and how we live today.

The Pleasant Home Foundation is dedicated to restoring, preserving and operating the home both as a beloved local civic institution, as well as a destination for visitors from around the world who come to Oak Park to enjoy its vast array of architectural and cultural treasures.

Pleasant Home was designed in 1897 by noted architect George W. Maher for investment banker and philanthropist John W. Farson and his wife Mamie Ashworth Farson.  The design of Pleasant Home broke with the traditional Queen Anne and colonial revival styles of most of the homes in Oak Park.  The simplified massing of Farson’s house, its broad front porch, the smooth surfaces of Roman bricks and stone, and the use of decorative motifs to unify the interior decoration and furnishings mark it as an outstanding Prairie School house.

Maher was a contemporary of world-renowned Prairie School architects Joseph Lyman Silsbee, Frank Lloyd Wright and George Grant Elmslie.  He designed more than 300 distinguished structures in the United States; Pleasant Home is the only Maher building open to the public as a museum.  In 1910, John Farson’s widow sold the home to the family of Herbert S. Mills, who made his fortune in the amusement machine business. He and his wife Leonie raised four boys and four girls in the home.

This 30-room architectural gem is a showcase of 19th century craftsmanship and artistry, with rich custom woodwork throughout the home, extraordinary art glass windows, a massive fireplace, intricate woodcarvings and tile work and the glowing warmth of light from another era.

Architectural features also include an unusual split-level upstairs foyer, a sleeping porch, a music room, children’s rooms and a period kitchen.  

Pleasant Home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.  That same year, it was included in the Illinois Historic Structures Survey.  In 1996, the National Park Service made Pleasant Home a National Historic Landmark and the Village of Oak Park named it one of the first Oak Park Landmarks.

A must see on any tour of the architectural treasures of Oak Park, we hope you will visit Pleasant Home and experience why Maher described it to newspaper reporters at the time as “…a style of architecture American, but not colonial.  The lines are classic, the surfaces broad and the ornamentation centralized.  The style betokens comfort and home in every line.”





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