Edmund R. Krause - Edgewater Architect

Vol. XVI No. 3 - FALL 2005

By: LeRoy Blommaert

This is the third in a series of articles about architects who designed buildings in Edgewater. The first was J.E.O. Pridmore (Edgewater Scrapbook Vol. IV No. III); and the second was Julius H. Huber (Vol. XIV No. III).

J.E.O. Pridmore, Julius Huber and Edmund R. Krause both lived in and designed homes in Edgewater. Edmund Krause probably holds the distinction of being the only architect who lived in each of the Edgewater homes he designed. That sounds impressive until one realizes that he designed only two homes in our community. However, they were very substantial homes.

The Man

Edmund R. Krause was born in Thorn, Germany, on August 15, 1859, the son of William and Wilhelmina Krause. He studied architecture in Germany and came to the United States in 1880 at the age of 21. He began his architectural practice in Chicago in 1885 at the age of 25 or 26. For a brief time, he was in partnership with Frederick W. Perkins (1896) but, for most of his working years, he was a sole practitioner.

In February, 1887, at the age of 27, he married Laura A. Faber. That marriage ended in either death or divorce. On October 31, 1891, at the age of 31, he married Katherine Davis. That marriage ended in divorce sometime between 1910 and 1920, because the 1920 census shows him as divorced and living alone; however, his death certificate shows him being married rather than either widowed or divorced, so it is possible that they reconciled. He and Katherine had two children together: Edmund F. and Lydia F.

Except for one six-year period when he lived in Evanston, he was always a north-sider. Interestingly, he changed his residence quite frequently, even after he married. In one consecutive four-year period, he had a different residence each year. He first came to Edgewater in either 1898 or 1899, because the 1899 City Directory shows him living at 1195 Winthrop (current address 6214), a brick home, not designed by him. The 1900 and 1901 directories show him living one door south at 1189-91 (current address 6212). He did not stay there long (less than three years) because the 1902 city directory shows him living at the Lessing Apartments (Surf and Broadway). That was a short stay too. The 1905, 1906 and 1907 directories show him living at 3059 Kenmore (current address 6332). Again, he did not stay there long either because the 1908 directory shows him in Evanston; there he stayed for six years before returning to the city. The 1914 directory shows him living at 4621 N. Sheridan, where he lived until moving to the Edgewater Beach Hotel. According to the summer 1930 issue of Ripples, the hotel’s publication, Edmund Krause was the second longest residing guest at that time, having moved in on July 7, 1916, and he never left. Interestingly, he lived longer at the Edgewater Beach Hotel than at any other address since coming to the United States in 1880.

Edmund R. Krause died on July 2, 1935 at the age of 76. He is buried in Calvery Cemetery

His Work

The American Contractor database that covers the period 1898 through and including 1912 shows that he designed 61 buildings. Of these, 25 (or 41 percent) were for either E.J. Lehman, the estate of E.J. Lehman or another Lehman family member. It is a great example of the importance of a major client to an architect. Another major client was the Fair Department Store. He designed six buildings for them – mainly warehouses or delivery stations – between 1904 and 1909.

It appears that the large apartment building was his specialty, for he designed several. Most of them have been demolished, but one prominent commission still stands at the intersection of Surf and Broadway. Originally known as the Lessing Apartments, it was later renamed the Commodore and is now a condominium building. Designed in 1897 and completed in 1898, it originally had 75 apartments, 15 to a floor around a “U”-shaped central courtyard. Later, an Annex was constructed to the north using the same style yellow Roman brick. The Lessing Apartment Complex was one of the first, if not the first, large apartment building constructed north of Diversey. He also designed the 20-story Majestic Theatre building, at what is now 22 W. Monroe. It was subsequently renamed the Schubert Theater and, in 2005, was renamed the LaSalle National Bank Theater. George Rapp of the later firm of Rapp and Rapp designed the interior theater while working as an assistant to Mr. Krause. The building itself was recommended for Chicago Landmark status in 2005. To our knowledge, Edmund Krause designed only three structures in Edgewater: two houses and one commercial building. The first house he designed was at 1189-91 (now 6212) Winthrop. Cook County Recorder of Deeds records show his wife purchasing the lot on August 25, 1898. The permit for the house was issued the next month and he is shown as living in the house in the 1899 and 1900 city directories. It was a rather substantial frame house at 2,800 square feet. The Krauses sold the improved property on January 1, 1902. It was obviously a short stay. This 6212 Winthrop house was featured in the Edgewater Historical Society’s 2002 Spring Home Tour. Here is the description of the main room:

The living room has beautiful oak paneling half way up the wall, capped with a ledge. There are two built in bookcases, a window seat and a green tiled, double mantel fireplace. Around the ceiling is an oak cornice. On either side of the fireplace are windows with diamond patterned mullions. All the wood, including the floors is oak.

The Krauses must have liked the North Edgewater neighborhood because they came back after living in the Lessing Apartments. On March 22, 1904, they purchased a lot on the 6300 block of Kenmore. In May, a permit was issued to him for a 3-story brick residence, 40 x 38 feet at 3059 Kenmore (currently 6332); the estimated cost was $10,000. The house was a substantial one – over 5,700 square feet of living space and red face-brick on all sides. He is shown as first residing there in the 1905 city directory. The family lived there until moving to Evanston sometime in either late 1907 or early 1908.

Surprisingly, both of these houses survived the major waves of changes that resulted in the demolition of most of the original homes along Kenmore and Winthrop – the construction of the common corridor buildings in the 1920s and the 4+1s in the late 60s and early 70s. For many years, the red brick home at 6332 was owned by Emmanuel Rothchild, who lived at 6338 in a house designed by Myron Church. When he died, both properties were sold as a single package at auction. Not surprisingly, Loyola University was the successful bidder. Almost immediately upon obtaining title, Loyola demolished both houses, despite the written request by the Edgewater Historical Society that it not do so. The property remains vacant, though grassed and fenced. The house at 6212 Winthrop survived until 2005, when the developer who purchased it the year before from the live-in owners demolished it to construct condos (not yet built as of this writing).

The Edgewater commercial building that Edmund Krause designed still stands, though extensively modified on the front façade. It was one of three delivery stations he designed for the Fair Department Store in June 1904. The Edgewater building was at 3631-39 N. Clark (currently 5238-46). It is now occupied primarily by the Cheetah Gym. The other Fair warehouses were in Irving Park and on West Madison Street. Interestingly, when constructed the Edgewater delivery station was the largest building on Clark Street in Edgewater. It was also one of the few buildings on Clark Street in this area. The 1905 Sanborn fire map shows only 24 buildings on both sides of Clark Street between Foster and Bryn Mawr. And this total includes 10 houses.

Sources: Book of Chicagoans, 1911, Chicago City Directories, Economist, American Contractor, Cook County Recorder of Deeds Tract Books, Edgewater Beach Hotel publication, Ripples, 1920 Federal Census, Illinois and Cook County Vital Records.