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.


  1. Ultra Local Geography now has a Facebook page!

  2. A very interesting set of posts under the flatiron building series. Your sketching is amazing!!!

    Happy 4th of July holiday!!!