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In 1905, Mr. Joseph Downey purchased a corner lot and hired William Carboys Zimmerman to construct a home there at a cost of $20,000. The style of the home shows strong Prairie influence with ribbon windows, elongated roman brick and wide overhanging eaves. This building, now owned by the Chicago Park District, was designated a Chicago Landmark in 2013.

The entrance is set slightly to the left up a short flight of steps and through a porch that has a shed roof along the north part of the structure. The porch pillars are squared and decorated with egg and dart design and they rest on a low wall of roman brick. The windows facing the porch are three in a row in one window opening. On the right side there are five windows in a row. Above the porch on the second floor there are four windows and a small center window. The dormer for the third floor included three windows in a row. There are three dormers on the third floor. The eaves at the second floor level have a coffered design on the underside wide overhanging eve around the entire structure.

The wood framed main entrance has a fixed glass pane and side lights which may have been leaded glass. Around the large opening of the door frame is decorative stonework. Originally, the driveway was along the north side of the house with a porte cochere and a side entrance in to the main hall. The home once had a terra cotta roof and was featured in 1917 ads for the Ludowici-Celadon Company in House Beautiful. A photo of the building also appeared in the prestigious Inland Architect in 1907. The front porch was covered in a mosaic flooring. One medallion has been preserved in front of the door. Inside in the first hallway the tiling continues with the same

The inside of the home shows the beauty of the Prairie design. The first hall provides an air lock, a protection from the cold. This opens into the main hall from which there are entrances to several rooms. Toward the front on the left is a room that is now used as an office. Just past the main staircase and the side entrance stairs is a room that may have been set aside for the coachmen of visitors.

The open space of the living room on the right includes enclosed book shelves on two sides of the room with original leaded glass. This is an element common to the home at 6200 Sheridan. This means that furnishings would have been in the center on carpets. In this large room is a curved bay with a window bench facing the south which would have provided sunlight in the cold winters along the lake shore.

The dining room includes the original buffet and fireplace. The oak wood has been refinished and may have been darker originally. The sun porch, a later addition. is the most gracious space with the curved rear wall of windows that look out onto Lake Michigan.

No expense was spared in the creation of this interior space with mahogany woodwork in the living room and oak throughout the rest of the house. The tile floors in the hallway and dining room are glass mosaic. The kitchen has been altered to create two bathrooms. At the back is a butler’s pantry with some original cabinets.

The staircase, with simplified oak railings in a step design, leads to a landing where once stained glass or leaded glass windows in five panels were installed. The second floor has been altered to meet the public use needs of the community. The staircase continues to the third floor which housed the servants’ quarters and the ballroom. This is not regularly open to the public.

The Chicago Park District acquired the 3½ acre site and this building after several years of community lobbying efforts. After a study of the two buildings at Berger Park, the Chicago Park District decided to keep only this building. This facility now functions as a regular park facility with arts classes. Some of the art classes are held in the basement. This building is not regularly open on the weekends.

A special thanks to the Chicago Park District and park supervisor Justin Ostergaard for arranging this viewing for the Edgewater Historical Society.