Andrew E. Norman: Mystery Solved?

Vol. XXIII No. 3 - Fall 2012

By: LeRoy Blommaert

In the article on Andrew E. Norman that appeared in the Vol. 23 no. 2 issue of the Scrapbook, we speculated whether he was the architect for the houses in the 1700 block of Granville that the B.F. Weber and Weber-Kransz Companies constructed in 1903, one of which he moved to in either 1903 or 1904. We concluded that he probably was, but that we couldn’t find any documentary evidence for that conclusion.

Shortly after publication of the article, an on-line article was brought to our attention by Chris Corcoran, A.E. Norman’s great granddaughter. It was written by Algot E. Strand in the Svenska Nyheter, a weekly Swedish newspaper, and it was all about Andrew E. Norman. The date it appeared was April 26, 1904 – just under a year after the permits were issued for these Granville houses. In that article, Mr. Strand wrote:

Last year Mr. Norman sold his house in Summerdale and moved to … Rogers Park. He became the architect for the large real estate firm, Weber & Craute… Annually, this firm builds hundreds of houses to sell, making it practical to employ an architect to do work exclusively for the firm…

There is no record of a Weber-Craute Company. Could there have been an error in translation and what was written in the original Swedish was Weber-Kransz? An examination of the article in the Swedish language at the Chicago History Museum reveals that the name in the article was “Weber & Crantz” – still not correct, but close enough to dispel any doubt that it was the Weber-Kransz Company.

On the basis of this article, we assert with a high degree of confidence that A.E. Norman was also the architect for some 45 houses constructed by the B.F. Weber Company on the 1400 and 1500 blocks of Hood in late 1903. The permits for these houses were issued in September 1903.

Less certain, but still probable, is that A.E. Norman was also the architect for some nine houses in the 1400 block of Glenlake and seven houses in the 1400 and 1500 blocks of Hood that were built by the B.F. Weber Company, and for which permits were issued in 1908. Since the permits for these houses were issued after the April 1904 article, the case for them is less compelling, as we don’t know whether B.F. Weber continued to employ A.E. Norman as his architect into 1908. However, we do know that he commissioned him to design an addition to his mixed use building in the 6100 block of north Clark St. That was in 1907.

The 1904 Chicago City Directory lists Algot E. Strand as a reporter with a home address of 3244 N. Clark (4913 currently), so it’s possible that he knew Andrew Norman, as the distance between his and the Norman home in 1903 was not that great – a few blocks.

Mr. Strand also sheds light on what it was that caused the Normans to stop payment on the loans they had taken out. He writes: “A badly chosen place for a large woodwork plant, which he had built, ruined him financially, however. Known to be honest and able, he soon obtained credit for needed material, enabling him to start anew.”