February 11, 2014

Old Chicago Houses

This post is not related to catalog houses, but I wanted to pass along a recommendation for a fun book I read recently.

Old Chicago Houses by John Drury was published in 1941. Drury was a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and the material in the book came from a series of articles he had written between 1939 and 1941. The book features 100 residential landmarks in Chicago and the stories behind the houses. I particularly enjoyed this book because Drury was able to track down descendants of many of the original homeowners for their personal stories. (The format actually reminded me a lot of what I do here at Sears Homes of Chicagoland.)

When the 1975 edition of the book came out, there were only 34 of the 100 houses still standing. Many of these were torn down for the expressways: the Dan Ryan, the Chicago Skyway, and Congress Parkway. Some were torn down for public housing projects. Some were torn down and replaced by commercial buildings, hospitals, and parking lots.

In 2013 there are 31 houses still standing. Some of the houses are museums; some have been protected by landmark ordinances that were enacted after publication of the book in 1941. Here is a list of the survivors in case you want to Google drive them or go see them in real life.

1827 S. Indiana Ave.
House was built around 1836 and moved to its present location. Currently a museum.
1800 S. Prairie Ave.
Currently the Glessner House Museum. Designed by H.H. Richardson.
1801 S. Prairie Ave.
Across the street from the Glessner House, this structure is currently the home of the U.S. Soccer Federation. The neighboring Glessner House is impressive, but  the Chateauesque Kimball house blows it away in my opinion. This architectural style is very rare in Chicago. 
 4448 S. Michigan Ave.
Built in 1873 for railroad magnate John Randolph Hoxie.
 631 N. Rush/100 E. Ontario Street
This house was recently occupied by Lawry’s The Prime Rib restaurant. The building was reduced from four stories to two.
2944 S. Michigan Ave.
Burnham & Root residence.
615 N. Wabash 
This house is currently used as commercial space.
UPDATE: Demolished 2015 after this writing.
 660 N. Rush
This building formerly housed Chez Paul restaurant, famously featured in the Blues Brothers. On a personal note, I had my wedding reception here. The McCormick house recently won an award for exterior restoration.
 40 E. Erie St.
Currently a museum owned by philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus.
 120 E. Bellevue Place
Built 1892. Currently owned by the Fortnightly Club of Chicago.
 800 S. Halsted
Yes, this is the famous Hull House, a center of social reform. Built 1856, currently a museum.
 3558 S. Artesian Ave.
Last sold in 2012, this house is in trouble.
 1503 W. Jackson Blvd.
Gorgeous 1873 mansion built for Benjamin F. Ferguson. Ferguson funded public art in Chicago, including Fountain of the Great Lakes.
 4223 N. Greenview
Somehow this house managed to avoid being a victim of the teardown frenzy in the neighborhood.
 5714 S. Dorchester
Photographer Fassett lived in the house from 1863 to 1875. It was built in 1860.
 5704 S. Dorchester
This house was built in 1869.
 10244 Longwood Dr.
A real castle made of limestone. I believe today it’s a church.
 2121 Hudson Ave.
A workers cottage that survived the Chicago Fire of 1871. 
 1555 N. State Parkway

 503 Wrightwood Ave.
One of my all-time favorites. It was for sale recently, but a little out of my price range at $12.5 million.
 James Van Natte Home
 4618 W. Armitage Ave.
Built in 1858. Just incredible it’s still standing.
UPDATE: Demolished in 2019.
 3812 N. Pulaski
I must have driven by this hundreds of times and never noticed it. Built 1869. The cupola has been removed.
 5917 W. Diversey
Dyniewicz was publisher of Gazetta Polskam, a Polish language newspaper.
 5760 Lafayette Ave.
The city is trying to find a buyer for this house. There was talk of an “urban vineyard” opening on the site and the landmarked house being the centerpiece. The house was already falling apart in 1941, according to Drury. Built about 1862.
 4646 N. Hermitage
Poet Carl Sandburg lived here from 1912-1914. The house has been landmarked and cannot be demolished, much to the realtor’s dismay in a recent listing.
 2204 W. 111th St.
Smith was managing editor of the Chicago Daily News.
 7660 S. Shore Dr.
Peattie was a botanist and author.
 631 N. Central

 3132 Prairie Ave.
Adler and Sullivan architects.
 1365 N. Astor
Landmarked. Built 1892 and designed by Louis Sullivan.
 5757 Woodlawn Ave.
Currently a museum. Frank Lloyd Wright architect.

The W.W. Kimball house on Prairie Avenue. Photo courtesy of Chicago Detours blog.

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