Friday, December 23, 2011

1311-1313 W. Pratt- Apartments of the Better Class

When I started this project last spring to document the Rogers Park buildings listed in the "Directory to Apartments of the Better Class Along the North Side of Chicago" I had to use scans taken from pages I copied from a deteriorating booklet.  But amazingly, the entire publication is now available for free through Google eBooks.  Heres' a link.  I may have to go back and recreate previous comparison graphics using the better images.

Above are The Boulevard Apartments.  Not sure why Pratt received a boulevard designation.  Maybe it was intended to be boulevarded at some point and never was.  Anyway, this six-flat uses a combination of red face brick and terra cotta trim.  There are two large Sullivanesque ornaments on the front of the sun porches.  They don't stand out very well in either of the photographs.  Simplified (some might say mediocre) vesions of Louis Sullivans terra cotta designs pretty much point to Midland Terra Cotta as the supplier.  This building looks like it's aged fairly well, although of course the windows have been changed.

To the right is the floorplan, which is typical for apartment buildings on long narrow lots.  Which is to say, long narrow apartments.  The circulation depends on a corridor, which is also typical.  The building faces north but the sun porches at the front bring in some light, as do the shallow light courts on the sides.  Probably the most pleasant place to be is on the back deck (which they refer to as the breakfast porch), with its southern exposure. Although maybe not in the winter, since it doesn't appear to be enclosed.  Only the sun porches admit light from more than one direction.

Unlike most of the apartments published in this booklet they didn't label one of the bedrooms as the maid's room.  The two secondary bedrooms share a bath, so perhaps one of those could serve.  Or not, depending on the needs of the tenants.  It's still amazing to me that the typical middle-class apartment dweller would have a live-in maid.

And no entry in the great book of Better Class Apartments is complete without the blurb.  It's interesting that this building had it's own ballroom on the ground floor.  Normally you would only see that in larger buildings.  Not to mention wall safes (really?) and central vacuuming.  And I'm still baffled by the appeal of a heated garage. The parcel receiver in the kitchen is a new one.  I assume this is some sort of pass-through where the mailman or delivery boy could leave a box. All and all a solid, if compartmentalized, building.  Maybe just a little short on natural light.

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  1. I would guess that the Blvd designation predated Rogers Park's annexation.

  2. I'm sure it does. But I wonder if just the name "boulevard" had some marketing value...

  3. This is so cool. I now live in this building, and it was wonderful to learn about its early days.

  4. I'm very curious to know if the floor plan has changed! I'm guessing it has...

  5. Larry, yes it has changed. There are two bedrooms now instead of three, and a combined room across the rear of the apartment including an open kitchen, among other changes. And there's a utility room where there used to be open sort of chute in the middle of the building.