From greystones and H.H. Richardson to bungalows and Frank Lloyd Wright, residential architecture in Chicago really runs the gamut. One Chicago neighborhood with a great variety of historic architecture is Lincoln Park. Of course, we always enjoy cruising through Lincoln Park on the Chicago Highlights Detour 101 Bus Tour.
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Historic Architecture on Arlington Place
A long Georgian-revival style building stretches down the little neighborhood street of Arlington Place. It was originally designed as an “Eleanor Club,” which were female-only boarding houses in Chicago. A progressive philanthropist named Ina Robertson founded the Eleanor Women’s Foundation. It aimed to aid working women and part of their program was to provide housing for Chicago women. This historic organization had residences in Chicago all the way until 2001, when the last Eleanor residence quietly closed its doors.
Edwin H. Clark designed the boarding house. His most famous designs are the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Reptile House and the Lincoln Park Cultural Center. Today, the old building houses the Chicago Getaway Hostel, which gives a great chance to stay in a historic building in a happening neighborhood.
The hostel building is today part of the Arlington-Deming Historic District. Another interesting building in the neighborhood is at 546 W. Deming Place. This apartment building is a classic example of the once-controversial “four-plus-one” style. Jerome Soltan invented this economic style of apartment building in the 1960s and 70s. It consists of a five-story building with the bottom floor as a parking lot and lobby and the other four floors above as apartments.
Old and Modern Side by Side
While the four-plus-one sounds basic and familiar in many American cities, this style is uniquely Chicago. It is designed around the unique city zoning codes and lot regulations to maximize owner profit. The parking lot and lobby level sit below grade and are only 7′ in height. Thus, parking is in a basement. The five-story building is therefore official four-stories. Very useful for sneaking around city zoning laws! These buildings exist primarily along the lakeshore, a.k.a. prime sections of real estate. This particular four-plus-one in Lincoln Park has 24 apartments. That’s a lot of density on the site of one single-family home.
The Newman Brothers Houses at 2424, 2430 and 2434 N. Orchard add another historic texture to Lincoln Park. Designed by the nephew of Chicago’s first architect, John Van Osdel II, these Châteauesque homes are an interpretation of a style popularized in the 1890s with S.S. Beman’s Kimball House on Chicago’s historic Prairie Avenue. The Newman Brothers Houses date back to 1895. They include one of my favorite architectural features, a curved glass pane window. Pieces like that simply aren’t manufactured these days. The three homes are almost identical with the same exterior design and details. You will see, however, nuances with the different-colored stone of the facade.
From chateau-inspired mansions to efficient profit-making design, the historic architecture in Lincoln Park has more than a handful of interesting examples of Chicago’s distinct residential buildings worth a jaunt down the pretty, tree-covered side streets.
–Jenn Harrman, Tour Guide
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