Thursday, November 12, 2015

2324 W. Devon, 1926

L. Shure, 2015
Every time I pass this building on Devon I'm amazed by its ornamental quality and originality.  Where else can you find a 1-story building draped with owls, lions, shields, and weird geometric insignias?  And why would so much detail be lavished on such a small building?

According to the Chicago Historic Resources Survey (CHRS) this was designed by architect Edward Perry Steinberg.  Steinberg designed several of these medieval-inspired commercial buildings, complete with half-timber details and herringbone brick infill.  Or at least those were some of his buildings picked up by the survey. (See below.)

Edward Steinberg was one of many unsung Chicago architects who had a long and productive career but never really came into the public eye.   Even so, his work continues to contribute to neighborhood character throughout the city.   According to his 1975 Tribune obituary he designed movie theaters for the Lubliner & Trinz chain (including the former Belpark Theater), as well as the W.F. Hall Printing Corporation at 4600 W. Diversey (now demolished).  He was also a founding member and architect for the former B'Nai Zion Synagogue at 1445 W. Pratt.

2324 W. Devon
The illustration is a bit dishonest in that it restores some of the integrity of the building.  It hasn't been maintained very carefully and is starting to deteriorate.  Some of the slate tiles have been replaced by asphalt, and signage attachments have taken a toll on the ornamental features.  When I see buildings like this they're often on their way out.  Any extensive restoration would far exceed the market value of the property, so the common solution is to keep things going as long as possible with as little cost as possible. But you can only depend on the underlying quality of the materials and workmanship for so long.  When the maintenance issues catch up I expect to see a wholesale removal of the ornament.

Photo on the left by the author, and the two on the right from the CHRS.


  1. See also 110 S Washington, Hinsdale and 27 S Prospect, Park Ridge

  2. Thanks BW! I need to get some photos of those.