6018

In 1909, Max Eberhardt, one of the founders of Chicago’s municipal court system, commissioned the partnership of Henry W. Hill and Arthur F. Woltersdorf to design a residence. The result was a unique building which incorporates German neoclassical and American prairie style elements. The Hill & Woltersdorf firm are best known locally for the annexes they designed for the Tree House Studios building on LaSalle Street, a Chicago Landmark, and the clubhouse on Pratt (since demolished) of the Edgewater Golf Club. The house at 6018 is their only residential work in Edgewater and is Orange rated for its architectural significance. All three men were prominent within Chicago’s German-American community. Judge Eberhardt also was well-known as a philanthropist and as a German-language poet.

As compared with its more traditional older neighbor at 6023 across the street, the façade of cream brick with strong exterior massing is a plainer and more modern presence. There is a full front porch supported by double columns. The outer set are squared with classical details at the top. The second paired column is Doric. The porch has no railing but instead has large limestone boxes that delineate the edges of the porch space. The wide central staircase leads to an asymmetrically placed front door, balanced on the left side by a large front window that was once a single pane of glass. The front door’s original oversized glass surround was once leaded glass.

On the upper façade there are two large second story windows placed symmetrically. These have decorative dentils in the brick work around each window. At the third floor there is a dormer that extends Craftsman-style only slightly above the roof line. It is symmetrical with three separate windows and some dentil design. The roof is green tile and apparently original. The home is 3,336 square feet and originally had four bedrooms and two bathrooms.

In the 1960s, the main part of the house was divided into two apartments plus another in the basement. Part of this alteration was the enclosure of the main staircase to create a separation from the first floor unit. An open staircase would have been typical at the time of construction in 1909. From the front entrance hall the home opens into a front parlor for visitors, a second parlor for the family, and a dining room with a bay window and built in china cabinets. Behind the dining room is the kitchen which was quite small and a back hallway and half bath. A back staircase leads to the second and third floors. Some of the distinctive original features that remain on the first floor are the original pocket doors separating the front and back parlors, parts of the original dining room plate rail, the waiter’s bell on the floor under the dining room table, a copper/zinc pipe for communication between the upstairs and downstairs kitchens, and the chimney hole for the coal burning kitchen stove. The bedrooms on the second floor are large and the bathroom is spacious. They can be reached by the front staircase or the back.

The rear staircase leads to the third floor with two bedrooms and a large front room that was the recreation room, usually called the ballroom. The home could have housed at least three servants. Some of the original elements to note on the third floor are the undamaged plaster walls, floors, and windows.

In about 1922, after the death of their parents, Judge Eberhardt’s children sold the house to Michael and Tillie Koolish, who raised four dramatic arts-involved children in the house (the father Michael, a violinist, was also a founding member of the Rogers Park Symphony Orchestra). In 1930-1932 they made the third floor ball room available to a “studio theater” group, a precursor to the present arts use of the house. In 2008 curator Trish Van Eck and her husband purchased the building after an unsuccessful attempt by a developer to demolish it to make way for new condo construction. Their plan to restore the house to its original state was derailed in 2010 by a burst water pipe in the second floor kitchen. The resulting first floor water damage forced removal of the walls, exposing the bones of the original structure and leading the owners to see new creative possibilities for the house.

In May 2011 the owners established “6018North,” a non-profit art center for innovative and experimental art and culture. In 2012 they opened an exhibition titled “Home: Public or Private?” which used every room in the house to explore distinctions between public and private, artist and audience, house and museum. 6018North’s projects range from site-specific installations to experimental performances and communal events which take place in the house, across the city, and beyond. Some of these installations remain on view, and this blurring of boundaries between art, life, and the house as a mediator continues to define the 6018North experience today. Many of the works on view also are consciously in dialogue with the history of the house, such as Keith Buchholz’s Home Canned (for Max Eberhardt), 2012, an homage to Judge Eberhardt. You are invited to enjoy all the various installations as you tour the house.

The house is currently undergoing a green restoration with tuck pointing and masonry repair to match the original brick and mortar and has had the roof’s original wooden battens replaced with recycled plastic boards under the original roof tiles.

Please visit http://6018North.net/ to find out about current and future events and exhibits at the 6018North arts center.