Who was R. Harold Zook?
Homes with “thatched” roofs, exposed chamfered beams, brick, stone, stucco and wood, beamed cathedral ceilings, and small irregularly shaped rooms bring Cotswold cottages to mind. Add spider web designs, V-shaped windows, chevron patterns and cutouts in wooden shutters, gates and window boxes, and you get the designs of R. Harold Zook.
Roscoe Harold Zook was born in Valparaiso, Indiana in 1889. He earned a degree in architecture from the Armour Institute of Technology (now IIT) in 1914 and opened an office in the Loop. Early on, he worked with noted Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw. In 1924 he built a home at 327 South Oak Street in Hinsdale, where he resided until his death in 1949.
Zook designed homes in Iowa, Wisconsin, and throughout Chicago’s suburbs. Public buildings include the St. Charles Municipal Building (1939), the former DuPage County Courthouse (1937) Maine East High School (1927), and the Pickwick Theater (1928) in Park Ridge, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
R. Harold Zook and his talents can be found throughout the Village of Hinsdale, Illinois. He served on and chaired Hinsdale’s Architecture Committee and the first Plan Commission for seventeen years, fostering the Georgian design in our municipal and commercial buildings still enjoyed today. He designed approximately thirty-four homes and commercial buildings within the Village. Although most famous for the Cotswold style, he also created Tudor and Georgian structures. Each day as we pass through our Village, we see Zook’s impact on Hinsdale.
Zook was as much an artist as an architect. His passion is evident in his distinctive designs, use of natural materials, and quality craftsmanship. Zook’s romantic style contributes greatly to Hinsdale’s charm. His graceful architecture has enormously enhanced the Village, and it would be much diminished without it. Once you become aware of these unique works of art, a drive through his hometown of Hinsdale, Illinois will never be the same!