Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Flatirons in Rogers Park #4- Paulina Building

This is the final flatiron building in the series, at the northwest corner of Howard and Paulina.  Just like the earlier Loyola flatiron, this one is defined by the diagonal line of the El tracks.  Howard is the last Chicago stop on the Northside and was once quite an entertainment district.  I'm assuming this building has its own elevator because of the huge override on the roof.  This would have been unusual for a 3-story building in the 1920s, and suggests that it might have been luxury apartments or offices at some point. Although being right next to the tracks wouldn't have been the most desirable location.

7600 N. Paulina
Built: 1929
Architects:  Newhouse and Bernham

The primary facade is clad entirely in terra cotta, which was a less common treatment by the 1920s, when architects and builders were more likely to use a combination of brick with terra cotta accents.  This was easier than detailing (and constructing) all of the steel attachments necessary for terra cotta.  This building has an almost festive use of cream and pink terra cotta, decorative spandrels and no lack of classical festoons. It probably looked old-fashioned the day it was completed.  I particularly like the simplified terra cotta columns spanning the second and third floors between the windows.

This is also the only flatiron building in this series to have received an "orange" rating in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey  (CHRS) which means that the building has some architectural significance in the context of the neighborhood.   Unfortunately the first floor has been remuddled mercilessly, and the generous storefront windows have been reduced to a 1970s strip. But you can still see the name, "Paulina Building" proudly displayed on the band below the cornice.

Because of the survey I know that the architects were Newhouse and Bernham.  I could have found this out by looking up the information in the ancient permit files on microfilm (available at the Harold Washington Library or the UIC Library).  But what I couldn't have done easily is identify three other buildings designed by Newhouse and Bernham.  Sure enough, they seem to have specialized in full terra cotta facades, although one of the buildings is a classically designed limestone-clad synagogue:

Only buildings identified as potentially significant were documented in the survey, so there's certainly more out there by the same team which have not been categorized.  This is a problem with windshield surveys, which only identify the most significant buildings.  If you want to understand the range of an architect, or see designs which may have preceded (or followed) better buildings it's very difficult to accomplish.  Of course it would have extended the CHRS survey period from 10 years to 50 years, so I understand the limitations.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Flatirons in Rogers Park #3- Greenview, Howard and Rogers

I've finally found the Rogers Park equivalent of Times Square.  Sort of.  Seventh Street and Broadway create a New York-sized hour-glass as they scissor across each other.  Howard and Rogers create a Rogers Park-sized hour-glass.  This intersection acts as the east gateway to the sadly faded Howard Street commercial district.  The criss-cross allowed for the construction of two opposing flatiron buildings, the only instance of this happening in the neighborhood.  Because of the strange way that Howard shifts south as it heads east over Greenview these buildings seem to point at each other like huge arrows. 

Although I reference Rogers Avenue in a previous post, I didn't really go into any explanation of why there's such an uncharacteristic diagonal street cutting through the neighborhood.  In 1816 the Fox and Sauk tribes ceded a 20 mile corridor to the United States at the Treaty of St. Louis.  Everything outside of this corridor was owned by Native Americans until the Chicago Treaty of 1833.  At which point you were out of luck if you were a Native American.  Rogers Avenue represents the northern boundary of this defunct corridor, and continues from Lake Michigan to the southwest.  You can still find this line on plat maps.  Although it doesn't have much meaning nowadays, it's responsible for some unusual street and park configurations.  For a great entry about this check out Forgotten Chicago's website.
1509-1519 W. Howard
Buit: 1922
Architect: Leo Miller

On the west side of the intersection is a very handsome building with limestone facade, a classical parapet and flat-pedimented entry.  There's a really interesting antique and thrift store here which has been in the neighborhood forever.  I'm not sure if there are apartments above or additional storage.  The limestone has some condition issues, but you can tell that this building is very important to someone.

7601-7611 W. Rogers
Built: 1928
Architect: M.O. Nathan

This building on the east side of the intersection doesn't use its false mansard roof to the best effect.  But some interesting ornament is found on the side elevations, where elaborate parapets project above the roofline and contain decorative arched areas framing triple-ganged windows.  Unfortunately the first floor has been coated with a pebble stucco which has not aged well.  I think all the storefronts in this building are vacant.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Gable Apartments in Rogers Park (reposted from 6/1/09)

While I'm putting together more flatiron entries I thought I would revisit a post from 2009:

I've only found these in the southeast part of Rogers Park, near Loyola's lakefront campus. Basically they're typical 3-flats but with a projecting gable front flanked by two ground floor terrace areas. Most of them have Prairie or Craftsman detailing, often with some classical ornament thrown in. Some preliminary digging indicates construction around 1915.

1244 W. North Shore

 The gable front tends to minimize their mass and bring in more light . Maybe this is a localized sub-type of some sort. By the 1920s developers seem to have combined several lots to allow courtyard buildings, but these appear to fit on standard 25' wide Chicago lots. 

1130 W. North Shore
Built: 1915
1128 W. North Shore
Built: 1915

Another thought is that these buildings were some of the first signs of increasing density due to the extension of the nearby elevated train and the associated increase in land cost.  The attention to detail and use of domestic symbolism may have made these buildings more acceptable to the single family homeowners in the area. 

1325 W. Arthur
Built: 1916
Architect: Carol Hoerman

Since I wrote this in 2009 I've found some more of these buildings in Hyde Park.  It would be interesting to do a real study to determine if this is a valid sub-type or a brief architectural fad. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Flatiron #2- 1230-1234 W. Loyola

1230-1234 W. Loyola
Built: 1928
Owner: A. Kirschbaum
Cost: $120,000
Architect: Kuya (no first name given)

This building is opposite the Loyola stop on the Red Line.  If you set up a pulley system maybe you could swing onto the platform from your window. This is an uncomfortable, windswept section of Rogers Park, exaggerated by the massive concrete viaduct supporting the El tracks.  The blank modern buildings on the south side of the street don't help, and neither does the nearby surface parking and lack of street trees. But it has been improved in recent years by converting a vacant lot into a garden for the Chicago Waldorf School, which is a bit further to the west.

The building itself is a good example of the Italian Renaissance Revival style, with false mansards covered with clay tile, the occasional decorative cartouche, and first floor storefronts clad with vaguely gothic ornament. And surprisingly, the storefronts haven't been entirely mucked-up.  But I want to know why nearly every ecclectic architect in the 20s included fake Juliet balconies. Just let it be a window!

The main elevation shown above faces south.  Unlike the previous flatiron, this building doesn't make use of an interior court for light and air.  Although intended to have a zero lot-line with its west neighbor (now missing) there's an inset about 30 feet back from the front property line to allow for windows. Along the alley a couple of triangular light courts have been inserted for the same reason.  I'm sure the south-facing apartments are very bright and cheery.  For the others, probably less so.

The process of raising the El tracks began in the 1910s, but wouldn't be complete until the early 1920s. So the residents of this building have never been without the comforting rattle of the train.  But as a famous couple of brothers have said, the train comes by so often you won't even notice it.