Wednesday, March 4, 2015

1716-1718 W. Morse and 6947 N. Clark, c.1905

On Morse just east of Clark there are two greystone 2-flats built around 1905.  Greystone refers to the Bedford limestone quarried in Indiana and installed as decorative veneers on the front of these buildings.  Greystone facades became common in many Chicago neighborhoods, but are actually a bit rare in Rogers Park. 

Although they present a solid appearance, the stone is only thick enough to allow the level of ornamentation required.  A greystone building may embody a variety of styles, but the most common treatment is a pared down Classical Revival, which is what you see here.

At the corner is a two-story bank building which has seen some extreme changes. Only when you look at the building from the east can you see some of the original details and brickwork.  The mansard roof and red brick cladding were put on in the 1960s, according to one of the comments below.  I'm fascinated by the mansard treatment.  Why was this popular?  Was it just a cheap way to drastically update a building, or did the mansard roof have some forgotten significance?  Some historians have proposed that it had its roots in the environmental movement of the 1970s (simple geometric shapes, natural wood shingles), but I just can't see it.


  1. This is SO interesting!!! My grandfather, John Pape, had his dry goods store at 6949 N. Clark from about 1904 through at least 1917. The business was listed under his wife Gertrude's name in Chicago directories for 1911, 1913, 1914, 1915, and 1917 (so far - haven't checked them all yet). Any way to find out more about the history of this building?

  2. About a million ways to find out more history, but I'm more focused on general trends and why it looks the way it does today. There is a photo of this building in the Rogers Park history published by Arcadia Press. Prior to slip-cover.

  3. I bought that book for my dad for Christmas a couple years ago! He lives about 200 miles away though. Can you please tell me what page the photo is on, so I can get him to scan it and send it to me? Thanks!

  4. 1st Commercial Bank did that in the 1960s. It was originally at Lunt & Clark & moved to Morse around 1960. The bank is actually two or three old buildings combined into one. The rear part on Morse was once the bank's drive through windows [there were two], when Illinois law required the drive through to be part of the bank, before branch banks were allowed here.
    They just changed the name to Byline Bank two weeks ago. Hopefully, Byline will fix the clock in the bank's sign on the west side of Clark. Before it was turned off a few months ago, it was always at least 20 minutes late, which wasn't a plus for a clock just a couple of blocks from the Metra station.

  5. Thanks for your correction Clark St.! Hard to imagine how that little area functioned as a drive-through. Probably not so well.

    Amanda (the librarian), I'll see if I can track down my copy. If it's not in there it might be in a brochure put out by the Loyola Public History department titled, "Reading your Neighborhood." I have both floating around somewhere...

    1. I finally took a good look at the rear of the Morse Ave. side of the bank yesterday.
      After they moved the drive through across the street, they added an extension to the building along Morse. The original drive through at the rear of the bank was a much, much larger area. It had two windows & it was easy for cars to do a 180 in the drive through.
      The driveway on Morse, was at least twice as wide as it currently is.

  6. Hi Larry - Glenna from Rogers Park / West Ridge Historical Society sent me a link to the image (since I forgot to look for it in the Arcadia Press book at Dad's a few weeks ago). I was also able to get a copy of the "Reading Your Neighborhood" book via interlibrary loan. Given that the image is from about 1915, I'm pretty certain the "Dry Goods" sign on the right in the image is my great-grandfather's store.

  7. Glad you found it! I can't even find my Rogers Park history books. They must be somewhere...

  8. I've often wondered why mansard roof treatments were so popular in the 60s and 70s. I've seen these done on 1 and 2 story commercial buildings in so many neighborhoods, and they almost always look cheesy.