This unusual concrete building has a long and interesting history. It was built by Colonel E. Russell in 1904 at the rear of the home at 1400 W. Hollywood which he built six months before. At the time, Chicago did not have a zoning ordinance to prevent building two buildings on one lot. The original address was 2461 Southport, but both the name of the street and the addressing numbers were changed in 1909. It appears from the records that he owned the building until 1912, and used it as his contractor offices. The second floor was an apartment.

In 1918 the place was owned by Margaret Walsh, a widow, and it was a convenience grocery store. Margaret had been renting there since 1917, and was able to buy the property. Margaret’s daughter Rose was a milliner and may have operated a hat shop in the commercial space when she lived there until 1970. Her other daughter Agnes lived there until 1992.

As you stand in front of the building, there are two doors. The door on the right used to lead to the commercial space but it is no longer used. The door on the left leads to a hallway and a staircase to the second floor of the building and it also opens into the first floor living room. All the counters, desks and cabinets have been removed and this space is now the living room, and the large central window with arch that once offered some display space is now the focal point of the living room.

In any event, the building has been exclusively a residence since 1992. Some architectural work was done to make the space more like a single family home with a first floor kitchen. The living room has maple floors. The next space is a dining room with a new kitchen to the right. The original maple flooring continues in this space. The kitchen has newer maple cabinets and is bright and light. The dining room opens into a cozy side yard, with a beautiful garden with a gate back to the front.

On the second floor, you must keep in mind that it was a full apartment. From the hallway you can see four rooms. One is set up with a laundry and walk-in closet. It is possible that this room was the kitchen, because there was plumbing already connected there.

The floors on the second level are maple. The doors, which are original, are six panels. All the woodwork is painted white. The bathroom has been updated. Each of the bedrooms has a window and closets have been added.

This was the home of Martha Lavey, the Artistic Director of Steppenwolf Theatre from 1995 to 2015, and an actor in Chicago theaters from 1981 until 1995. She moved to this cozy home sometime in the ’90s after an architect had redesigned it.

The building was recently purchased by people who live nearby. It has become an Airbnb, and is available for people who need to house additional guests in the area. Information can be found at www.airbnb.com/rooms/19619677.