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.

 Henry B. Clarke House
1827 S. Indiana Ave.
House was built around 1836 and moved to its present location. Currently a museum.
 John J. Glessner House
1800 S. Prairie Ave.
Currently the Glessner House Museum. Designed by H.H. Richardson.
 W.W. Kimball House
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. See photo below.
 John R. Hoxie House
 4448 S. Michigan Ave.
 L. Hamilton McCormick House
 631 N. Rush
This house is currently occupied by Lawry’s The Prime Rib restaurant. The owners have put a hideous fake fa├žade over the front of the house, but the real house is hidden underneath.
 Sydney Kent House 
2944 S. Michigan Ave.
Burnham & Root residence.
 Joseph T. Ryerson House
615 N. Wabash 
This house is currently used as commercial space.
 R. Hall McCormick House
 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.
 Samuel M. Nickerson House
 40 E. Erie St.
Currently a museum.
 Bryan Lathrop House
 120 E. Bellevue Place
 Charles J. Hull House
 800 S. Halsted
Yes, this is the famous Hull House, a center of social reform. Currently a museum.
 John McCaffery House
 3558 S. Artesian Ave.
Renovation has been started and the current owners think it will take another $100k to complete. This house is in trouble.
 Benjamin F. Ferguson House
 1503 W. Jackson Blvd.

 Frederick Sulzer House
 4223 N. Greenview
Somehow this house managed to avoid being a victim of the teardown frenzy in the neighborhood.
 Samuel M. Fassett Home
 5714 S. Dorchester

 William Hoyt House
 5704 S. Dorchester

 Robert Givins Home
 10244 Longwood Dr.
A real castle made of limestone. I believe today it’s a church.
 Bellinger House
 2121 Hudson Ave.
A workers cottage that survived the Chicago Fire.
 Archbishop Residence
 1555 N. State Parkway

 Francis Dewes House
 503 Wrightwood Ave.
One of my all-time favorites. It was for sale recently, but a little out of my price range.
 James Van Natte Home
 4618 W. Armitage Ave.
Built in 1858. Just incredible it’s still standing.
 Erastus Brown Home
 3812 N. Pulaski
I must have driven by this hundreds of times and never noticed it. Built 1869.
 Wladislaus Dyniewicz Home
 5917 W. Diversey

 John Raber House
 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.
 Carl Sandburg House
 4646 N. Hermitage
Yes, that Carl Sandburg. The house has been landmarked and cannot be demolished, much to the realtor’s dismay in a recent listing.
 Henry Justin Smith House
 2204 W. 111th St.

 Donald Culross Peattie Home
 7660 S. Shore Dr.

 Seth Warner Home
 631 N. Central

 Ira Heath House
 3132 Prairie Ave.
 Adler and Sullivan.
 James Charnley Home
 1365 N. Astor
 Frederick C. Robie Home
 5757 Woodlawn Ave.
 Currently a museum.

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

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