Thursday, June 30, 2011

7614-7616 N. Eastlake Terrace- Apartments of the Better Class #4

7614-7616 N. Eastlake Terrace
The assessor claims that this home was built in 1922, but here it is in "Better Class Apartments on the North Shore," which is dated 1917.  So either the asssessor is wrong (very common) or the booklet is misdated. In most cases I'm more inclined to believe the Avery Index of Architectural Periodicals, so for now I'll stick with 1917.
Anyway, this is a handsome brick and terra cotta apartment building nearly as far north as you can get before crossing over into Evanston.  The location is described as suburban, and I suppose it was in 1917 (or 1922).  Now this block of Eastlake is dense with small and large apartments.  Of course it still has spectacular proximity to the lake and to transit, as noted below:

And what is birch mahogany?  Is that birch stained to resemble dark mahogany?  Can you really call that mahogany?  And don't forget the convenient trash shoots.  These worked just fine in 3-story buildings.  Less so in anything higher than that.

This building is surprisingly intact.  It lost some ornament above the gable parapet, but it still has the tile mansard roof and the copper ornament above the entrance.  The windows are long gone, which is not unusual.  The historic image is dark, but I'm pretty sure the building has the original wood door and sidelights.

The projecting bays bring light into the main living spaces, while the building narrows to allow light from the side yards into the rooms at the rear.

The lot is trapezoidal in shape, with a 50' frontage and 150' in depth.  The bays are staggered but remain roughly parallel to Eastlake Terrace, which runs at an angle towards the northwest.  In addition, a 30' building line was recorded to the subdivision to provide a front yard for the block. Subdivision setback lines were one way in which developers could provide a measure of predictability to the areas they were trying to sell.  They weren't a very precise tool, but prior to adoption of the Chicago Zoning Code in 1923 they were better than nothing.

Even with the staggered bays the configuration of the units are very similar.  The differences in size probably permitted a range of rents.  Both units have maid's rooms at the rear, with easy access to the kitchen and pantry. Both plans allow for a small receiving hall.  And like most narrow apartments, they use a corridor to organize their circulation.  Not the fanciest apartment on the market at the time, but a solid design with a decent amount of space.

This building somehow avoided the condo craze, and is still in use as apartments.


  1. Maybe the sentence in the brochure was meant to run, "The trim is birch [comma] mahogany, and white enamel throughout ..." Perhaps it was the proofreader's lapse not the copywriter's hyperbole. -- Lou Chukman

  2. Possibly. That might make for a pretty complex color scheme for this building.

  3. Birch it is! "American Builder" Vol. 16, Dec. 1913 has a great advertisement for the use of birch, which is inexpensive and accepts all types of stains, including mahogany. Let's see if this link works:

  4. I understand that birch was once plentiful in Rogers Park; for example, what we now call Birchwood Avenue was a birch forest before being developed. I wonder whether some locally-sourced birch was used in buildings such as this?

  5. Could be. Although most of the materials available for construction and interior finishes would have been available through national suppliers. With the exception of the brick yards in West Ridge I don't think Rogers Park was ever a major source of building materials. It would be very cool to be wrong about this.