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Wilbert R. Hasbrouck (b.1931)

Dates of Interview:

June 1, 14, 21, 28; July 12, 14, 1994

Location of Interview:

Hasbrouck's office in Chicago


Susan Benjamin

Length of Transcript:

194 pages
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Biographical Summary

Wilbert Hasbrouck was born in 1931 in Mapleton, Iowa, and received an architectural engineering degree from Iowa State College in 1954. He worked for the Illinois Central Railroad for fourteen years (1954-1968) before opening his own architectural office in Chicago in 1970. From 1968 through 1975 he was the executive director of both the Chicago Chapter and the Illinois Council of the American Institute of Architects. By 1975 Hasbrouck had developed an expertise in historic preservation and became known as one of the pioneers in the field. He and his wife Marilyn published The Prairie School Review and continue to operate the Prairie Avenue Bookshop. His work on the restoration of landmark buildings by such architects as Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Burnham & Root has received numerous preservation awards. In 1986 he was named Preservationist of the Year by the Chicago Coordinating Council for Landmarks Preservation. Hasbrouck was given a distinguished service award by the American Institute of Architects, Chicago Chapter, in 1975. He was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1973.

Interview Highlights

Hasbrouck speaks of his early interest in Chicago architecture; the Chicago Heritage Committee; saving H. H. Richardson's Glessner House; publishing The Prairie School Review; restoring the Widow Clarke House, the Manhattan and the Rookery buildings in Chicago; restoring Frank Lloyd Wright's Dana-Thomas House in Springfield, Illinois; landmark status; and historic preservation programs.

Renovation of the Peoples Savings Bank (Norwest Bank); Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1991.
Photo courtesy of Wilbert Hasbrouck.

Proposed renovation of the Rookery Building; Chicago, 1992. Rendering by James Smith.
Department of Architecture, The Art Institute of Chicago.

Interview Excerpt

"[There are] two tracks you can be a professional in: restoration and preservation. Restoration is the hands-on improvement, if you will, of an existing building that merits restoration. The Rookery, for example, is an excellent example of restoration....Preservation involves preserving an existing structure or group of structures, and it can be at any stage of life of the building. You can preserve it as it is today--maybe it's not in particularily good shape but you preserve it--or you can restore it and then preserve it. Preservation is a different thing. It's about keeping the building from further deterioration and maintaining it and finding a reason for its long-term use." (pp. 144-145)

Additional Resources

Finding Aid to Prairie School Press Archives 1887-1991
Wilbert Hasbrouck images in the R&B Archives
Related archival materials in the R&B Archives

Funding for this oral history was provided by the Cliff Dwellers Club.