Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Cottage Chicago

Few buildings convey the historic character of the city as recognizably as the Chicago cottage. They
can be found throughout Chicago in working and middle-class neighborhoods.  Many were built in the 19th and early 20th century, but in reality the cottage never went out of style, it just transformed itself again and again.
2322 N. Cleveland, 1895

In general terms a cottage is one or one and one-half stories in height and built of wood or brick.  After the great fire of 1871 the city rushed to rebuild itself- in wood.  It took a few more years (and another fire in 1874) to impose strict regulations requiring fireproof construction within city boundaries. 

2044 W. Iowa, c. 1880

Most cottages are rectangular in plan, and fit on a typical Chicago lot (25' x 125').  They have front facing gable roofs and offset front entrances.  Architectural styles were often expressed through the window and door surrounds, as well as the cornice.  Most have a basement, although many early cottages just have a crawlspace.
1334 S. Karlov, 1890s

Cottage were constructed by individuals, but were often part of larger real estate developments.  Early Chicago had block after block of cottages, often taking advantage of mass produced ornamentation and informed by popular pattern books of the time.  Most common are those in the Italianate style, which decorative hood moldings and paired brackets under the eaves.  The one above is an example of the Queen Anne style, which used elaborate surface treatments and varied textures.

3703 W. Wrightwood, c.1890

Here's another Queen Anne cottage with a tripartite window configuration on the second floor with a sunburst pattern.  The porch is covered with fish-scale shingles.  

2020 W. Augusta, 1899
Above is an unusual example of a greystone cottage with a projecting bay.  "Greystone" is an Indiana limestone  commonly used for multi-family homes in Chicago in the 1900s and 1910s. 

1530 N. Greenview, 1910.
This cottage uses a simplified gothic vocabulary, with paired arched windows and elaboration of the gable parapet.  
2042 W. Iowa, c.1900

I'm not sure exactly what happened, here, but I suspect this cottage was rebuilt with stepped parapet. Work this extensive usually resulted from a major damage, such as a fire. But behind it  you can still see the classic massing of the cottage.

2404 N. Bernard, 1906

This is an amazing classical revival treatment of a cottage.  It uses a gambrel and triangular roof, and incorporates all sorts of pressed metal details, including a lantern motif to ornament the spring-points of the roof.  There's an unusual palladian window configuration on the second floor, with stepped limestone lintels.

2731 W. Haddon, 1894

And just to illustrate the breadth of the classical revival style, here's another one with elaborate ornamentation.  The centerpiece  the segmental arched window with a sunburst motif.  I can't even adequately describe the cornice...  

6413 N. Troy, 1958

The post WWII building boom of the 1950s built many neighborhoods in Chicago.  These used a new palette of materials and construction methods, many of which were developed during the war and quickly adapted to private development.  But its hard to improve on the overall massing and utility of the cottage.  

6401 S. Austin, 1964

The 1960s brought an even greater variety of materials and ornamental approaches.  This is considered a raised ranch, but for me it's a Chicago cottage pointed into the future.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Rowhouse Chicago: 1970s

Row houses in the 1970s continued to be utilized as infill housing in established neighborhoods, often replacing older homes in areas undergoing redevelopment. But they also filled vacant lots in developing neighborhoods where single family homes were no longer viable due to the underlying cost of the land.

Some were strictly modernist in design, utilizing geometric arrangements of glass and masonry.  Others referred back to historic row house designs but simplified and reconfigured for contemporary needs.  Many utilized more advanced site planning, with groups of buildings arranged on single lot and accommodating shared and private spaces as well as car parking and storage.
424 W. Webster, 1970.  Booth & Nagle.

5523-5557 S. Harper, 1970. I.M. Pei and Harry Weese & Assoc.

3030-3036 W. Pratt, 1971.

1901-1909 W. Hood, 1973.

312-318 W. Willow, 1974. Harry Weese & Associates.

1320-1328 E. 48th, 1977. Harry Weese & Associates.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Rowhouse Chicago: 1960s

In the 1960s row houses made their way into many urban renewal projects, both government funded and privately developed.  A new generation of architects were evaluating established building types and coming up with new designs and approaches.

1400-1428 E. 54th, 1967. Harry Weese and Associates.
515 W. Belden, 1967. Anderson & Battles.
515-529 W. Dickens, 1964. Tigerman & Koglin.

6224-6230 N. Leavitt, 1968.

1210-1216 E. 48th, 1969.  Keck & Keck.

Rowhouse Chicago: 1950s

In the 1950s row houses came roaring back in Chicago.  The cost of land and the demand for moderate density housing again aligned.  New materials and construction technologies, many developed during the war, were now available for private development.  The simplified architectural designs dictated by strict federal requirements and wartime shortages still informed the design of this new generation of row houses, even as those designs were enlivened with new colors and textures.

6151-6159 N. Fairfield, 1957.
2901-2909 W. Granville, 1958.
3001-3007 W. Granville, 1956.
7202-7214 N. Hamilton, 1959.
3016-3024 W. Rosemont, 1957.

Rowhouse Chicago: 1930s and 1940s

In the 1930s and 40s the row house became an important form for government subsidized public housing.  This program was interrupted by WWII and resumed afterwards at a much larger scale. 

Some early examples utilized a simplified Classicism, or a Moderne design aesthetic.  But as the program continued ornamental details were stripped away.

I want to write more about these, but for now I'll settle for getting them on-screen.  If you're familiar with the topic you'll notice that the Lathrop Homes (recently redeveloped) are missing. Those will be included once I get some good reference photos.

Trumbull Homes (2454 E. 106th), 1938.
Frances Cabrini Green Rowhouses (902 N. Hudson), 1942.
Bridgeport Homes (31st and Lituanica), 1943.

Altgeld Gardens (13357 S. Langley), 1945.

Rowhouse Chicago: 1900s through 1920s

After the 1890s it became much harder for me to find row houses.  Since this isn't exactly a scientific study it's possible I'm just missing them, but it seems to be more than that...

My guess is that that urban land became expensive enough to usher in the era of larger apartments.  Also, more affluent buyers were drawn to the expanding first tier suburbs, which had increasingly strong public transit connections and were far from the pollution and political unrest of Chicago.

Anyway, I'm hoping to add more examples from these decades as I find them.

201-217 N. LeClaire, 1900.
I had to restore one demolished unit based on photographs (second from the right).  And I know an emergency demolition permit was issued to demolish another unit, so it really doesn't look this way any more.  This row basically creates an instant village, so it's disappointing to see it deteriorating.

5344-5350 S. Wabash, 1914.
Here's a strong example a classical revival design unified by the decorative parapet.  I had to restore some altered porches and balconies and cornice sections.  I'm impressed by the use of bays to bring in more light, but I don't know if the porches were quite big enough to provide much benefit. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Rowhouse Chicago: 1890s

Hands down the 1890s were the decade of the most elaborate row houses, with the most astounding combination of styles.

2451-2451 W. Jackson, 1890s.

3910-3918 S. Prairie, 1893.

229-241 N. Sacramento, 1895.

2814-2826 W. Warren, 1896.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Rowhouse Chicago: 1880s

Perhaps the golden age of the Chicago row house?                                                                                                           
3920-3924 S. Prairie, 1889
2829-2837 W. Warren, 1880s.
2320-2326 W. Warren, 1884.
2148-2158 W. Bowler, 1882.
615-623 E. 42nd, 1880s.
615-623 E. 42nd, 1880s.
4341-4349 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., 1889.

Rowhouse Chicago: 1870s

Some of the oldest row houses in Chicago, built soon after the Chicago Fire of 1871.  These have been drawn to represent their original appearance, as closely as I could determine. In the real world all have lost some structural or ornamental features. 

2300-2310 W. Monroe, 1871
1254-1262 W. Lexington, c.1875.

3712-3722 W. Cermak, c. 1875.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Rowhouse Chicago - Circling the Wagons

In the 1960s and 70s many rowhouse designs in Chicago began to incorporate solid walls and barriers in front of the home.  Traditionally rowhouses had addressed the street with small setbacks and a generous stoop, allowing residents the opportunity to participate in neighborhood street life.

515-529 W. Dickens, 1964.  Tigerman and Koglin.

But now many turned away from the street, setting the structure further back on the lot and privatizing the front yard. The designs themselves also become more defensive--  in some cases almost bunker-like, as if they were intended to occupy the neighborhood by force.   These designs were most common in areas undergoing urban renewal, and convey some of the racial and economic anxiety that must have been felt at the time.  My examples here are from the Mid-North and Old Town neighborhoods, where they often replaced older building types.
515 W. Belden, 1967.  Anderson and Battles.
At the same time this was a very creative time for rowhouse design, with an emphasis on geometry and massing that utilized traditional as well as new ornamental materials. There was also some notable strides in site planning, often using several lots to create rowhouse arrangements with shared common spaces. 

1415-1425 N. Sandburg Terrace, 1972.  Component of Sandburg Village.
In the case of Sandburg Village the rowhouse components were part of a larger plan incorporating a variety of building types and sizes.  Rowhouses were one way to connect the new development with existing buildings at the periphery utilizing a similar scale.

1515 W. Belden, 1970.  Booth and Nagle.
This generation of rowhouses also addressed the needs of cars, often through clustered parking or even below-grade parking structures.  In some cases the occupant could step from their car right into their townhouse, without having to experience any of the intervening space.