This unique home was built in 1892 in John Lewis Cochran’s first Edgewater development of 1885. The building is unusual in many ways. First and foremost, it is an early side-by-side town home in an area that was planned for single family homes. The first homes in the area were built in the shingle style by architect J. Lymen Silsbee for J.L. Cochran. As brick became more available, new home buyers looked for brick buildings. Also, as investment conscious investors sought to buy and live in Edgewater, the concept of the town home emerged. This is the only remaining town home in the first Edgewater development and it has been listed with a code orange (a double orange since it is a two home building) as an important historical structure in Edgewater by the City of Chicago Landmarks Commission since 1984. It was built at a cost of $7,000 at a time when there were many economic problems in the country. The original address was 677.
The home also exhibits unique design elements in the brick which make it noteworthy. The building is defined by the large two story bay shape in the center of the façade. At the top of the building a parapet wall wraps around the bay in a waffle like pattern of squares that are alternately recessed. Below that wall is the wide cornice which gives the façade a horizontal accent. At the second story level the façade is interrupted by two small square windows in the center of the building which represent the sun. Since the building faces east, this element creates a focal point on the façade. At the first floor level, both town homes have an entrance porch and an oak front door set on the angle of the bay. This door, which is 4’ by 7’, repeats the pattern of the parapet bricks with recessed squares. The porch was designed with straight balusters and a straight wood column.
Inside the home is an “inner porch” or vestibule, with the original top nailed oak flooring. From the inside, you can see the stained glass window with a circular central medallion. The door to the living room is glass and oak with a decorative molding with dentils. As you enter the living room, there are two large windows toward the right corner of the building. There is a large opening to the dining room with crown moldings. The floors in these two rooms are replacements for the worn originals. The ceilings are 10 feet high.
In the dining room, the focal point is the fireplace, which is along the north wall in another large bay area. The fireplace is both coal and wood burning with a split flue inside the wall that goes around the window above the mantel. The original stained glass window was removed long ago and a leaded glass replacement is in place. Opposite the fireplace is the staircase to the second floor. The newel post was removed years ago and a simple wood beam is in place. The balusters are turned wood and painted white with a natural handrail.
As you ascend the stairs, you will be bathed in light from the large skylight above the staircase. The second floor contains three bedrooms. In the front bedroom, the original floor, 100 year old heart of pine, is visible. This makes it now 212 years old. The wood is two-toned because it comes from the center core of the tree. The second door opens to an enlarged bedroom that was once two rooms - each with a window on the angle of the bay. This is directly above the fireplace and the structure of the chimney is there. The third room is a smaller space and it looks out to the back. A full bath is at the end of the hall. It has been completely remodeled with Villeroy and Boch tile. The doors are all five panel oak that had been painted years ago.
Our last stop is the kitchen, which has not been updated by the current owners. As the new owners of a neglected antique building, they have carefully selected which projects to tackle first. From the kitchen you may exit out the back to see the lovely garden. As you walk out the door to the left is an area of gray stones which were once the sidewalk in front of the home.
The history of this home is unique because of the kind of building it is. The original owner was A. Thomas. However it was a rental unit for many decades. The current owner has researched the previous owners and the block and made some interesting discoveries. In 1900, there were only six homes on the street. John C. Campbell, a realtor, lived here with his family of two daughters and two sons. He was a renter. The Stickney sisters, who ran the Stickney School, lived across the street for many years. There were 31 people living on the block. By 1910, everything had changed. There were 24 homes on the block and 42+ families. This was the beginning of urbanization, as more and more families discovered the convenience of living in Edgewater. The current owners are among the few owner/occupiers of this lovely home who have put a lot of effort into its preservation.