Edgewater's Double Houses

Vol. XV No. 2 - FALL 2004

By: LeRoy Blommaert

There are twelve sets of double houses in Edgewater. “Double house” was the original term of reference. The more current designation is “duplex.”

Unlike a two-flat, which is a single structure containing two apartments, one placed above the other, a double house is a single structure containing two houses placed side by side and sharing a common wall.

The double house is a rare building type in Chicago and rarer still in Edgewater. Most houses are detached. The double house or duplex is much more prevalent on the East Coast, as is the row house, which is three or more houses sharing the same structure.

Of the twelve remaining double houses, all but two were constructed before 1900; two are frame, one is stone and the rest are brick; four were developed by Edgewater’s founder John Lewis Cochran and designed by the firm of Church and Jobson; three others were developed by another developer and the remainder were developed individually. Cochran’s Third Addition to Edgewater, today’s Lakewood Balmoral neighborhood, has the most double houses: 8 sets. The remaining four are scattered in other neighborhoods.

The earliest constructed double house is at 5330-32 N. Winthrop. The building permit was issued November 5, 1892, which also makes it one of the earliest surviving Edgewater houses. The owner of record was A. Thumas. Unfortunately, the architect is not known. The last built double house built is at 5306-10 N. Magnolia. It is the only concrete double house, and one of very few concrete structures anywhere in Edgewater built before 1915. The building permit was issued October 1905 to a T.F. Andrews. The architect was Paul Hansen.

An advertisement exists for the four double houses developed by Edgewater’s founder, John Lewis Cochran. Part of that ad, which appeared in the September 24, 1899 issue of the Chicago Tribune, is reproduced here. The addresses for the houses are 5333-35 and 5524-26 N. Lakewood, 5351-53 N. Magnolia and 1252-54 W. Norwood. The architects were the firm of Church and Jobson. Myron Church, who also designed the North Lakeside Cultural Center mansion at 6219 N. Sheridan Road, lived in Edgewater.

At one time, there were three more double houses in Edgewater: one at 5517-21 Winthrop; one at 5514-18 Kenmore; and one at 6224-26 Kenmore. The last was one of the few double houses designed by George W. Maher. The two south of Bryn Mawr were demolished in the 1920s; however, the North Edgewater one stood until at least the mid 1950s.