6023

Our research shows this home to be the oldest in the Edgewater Beach Central area. When it was built in 1892, the street addresses were different. At the time it was built the area was known as the North End. It may have been one of the first homes in Cochran’s 2nd addition to Edgewater. The permit for the house was issued John F. Steward (1840-1914), a well-known mechanical engineer and inventor from Plano, Illinois, who for fifty years was associated with William Deering in the Deering Harvester Company. An architect’s name has not been found and it is possible that Steward and his builder did the design of the house themselves.

From the front the home shows many design elements of the eclectic period of architecture in Chicago. The strongest elements are Queen Anne because of the wide porch and side turret. The current porch is a replacement done without any photos of the original. For years this home had an enclosed porch and so its street presence was greatly diminished. It does have a side drive but currently no garage. The construction materials are brick over a stone foundation. The basement is fully finished and flooding has been successfully overcome by installation of back valves in the floor drains.

The façade features a white painted door placed to the side which is original and probably oak. Two windows face the front and then the turret which is faceted has a window on each wall section. This is true on all three levels of the home. At the third floor level the front gable of the home is shingled surrounding a palladium window in the geometric design like some Eastlake homes of the 1880s. This same shingling can be seen on the north and south sides of the home. The home has four chimneys and six fireplaces that act to warm the interior of the home.

Except for the addition of a rear room in probably the 1950s, the interior of the house appears to have remained unchanged until a major renovation by the owners immediately preceding the Murrays, who purchased the house in 2013. The lengthy preservation of the home in its original condition was probably due to the continuous residency of the family of Henry B. Vanzwoll (1870-1959), president of the Sunbeam Electric Company, later acquired by General Electric. In 1902 Henry and his two brothers Herbert and Walter purchased the house from the Stewards and it remained in the hands of the family until 1971. Henry was the primary and ultimately the sole owner. Henry’s son and only child Sheldon was born in the house in 1904 and grew up there. Otherwise the occupants of 6023 during the Vanzwoll family tenure were all working age adults served by one live-in servant.

The entry hall is spacious and features one of the fireplaces as well as a curving staircase to the second floor. The mantle is original (as they are throughout the house) although the rustic stone above it covers the original tile surround. The narrow-board hardwood floors throughout the first floor are recent replacements that closely resemble the original flooring. The white painted woodwork, although not original, contrasts nicely with the dark floors and stair treads. Most of the bulls eye molding used in the window and door trim on both floors is original.

There are two large parlors on the right hand of the hall, the front for formal functions and the rear for everyday use, each with its own fireplace. The two parlors are separated from one another and the wide hallway by oversized sliding pocket doors. The front tower forms a good-sized bay window arrangement that was meant to hold a coffin in the period when visitations and funerals were still held in private homes.

There is a short rounded arch passageway containing a storage closet between the hall and the formal dining room. The arch is probably a recent reconfiguration since the passageway ceiling is not vaulted. The recent renovation also opened the dining room to the kitchen, creating one large space unified by the dark wood flooring. Removal of the wall also removed the dining room’s original built-in hutch. The modern kitchen features cherry cabinets, stainless steel appliances, black granite counter tops, and narrow horizontal dark earth-toned Italian glass tile that covers the original windows. The kitchen itself was probably enlarged at the time of the 1950s rear addition. The owner points out the clever use period-style blocks of molding in the four corners of the dining room ceiling as a way of disguising that the fact that the settling of the house produces ceiling corners that are out of alignment. There is a full bathroom in what was probably a large butler’s pantry just off the kitchen and the rear door to the house.

On the second floor there are six bedrooms opening off a wide hallway, of which the three in front are open for today’s tour. The distinctive five-panel doors are characteristic of the period as are the working transom windows (highly effective for producing summer air circulation) that surmount them. The original master bed room on the tower side of the front of the house side has its own fireplace. The large room on the south side of the house currently used as the master bedroom may once have been divided into two smaller rooms. A very small connecting “room” with its own small window and two doors on each side is between the original and current master bedrooms. Its purpose is not clear – perhaps it housed a chamber or used for some kind of storage that required window ventilation. There is a smaller bedroom over the front entry that probably was the original nursery. The two upstairs bathrooms were modernized in the recent renovation.

The finished third floor of this house probably served as a ballroom or large entertainment space, as was customary in this period. The third floor also accommodates the two bedrooms for the live-in servants required to operate Edgewater houses of this size. The 1905 Sanborn map indicates that 6023 was not originally built with a coach house despite the extra width of the lot.

Please exit the second floor by the rear service staircase and rear door, taking you to the back porch (added in the 1950s) and to the garden that the owners are expanding in this spacious lot.