This home, by architect George Washington Maher, is one of over 40 he designed in Edgewater. It was completed in 1916 at a cost of $35,000 for Adolf Schmidt, the president of Colombian Colortype. Maher, who worked for Edgewater developer J.L. Cochran, was apprenticed to Joseph Lyman Silsbee. Silsbee was Cochran’s first architect.
Maher’s architecture is noted for variations and adaptations of several architectural styles. He was strongly influenced by the designs of the Prairie School. In this building, we can find references to several historic elements. Maher frequently used a larger window opening to create a ribbon of window, but then divided the opening with columns. Here the columns are octagonal with elongated capitals. The designs are a variation of the Egyptian use of the lotus flower and the lily pad. This design is carried through in the Sullivanesque medallions which form the front open porch. We also find them as capitals of the corner columns.
The entrance portico, at the side, shows a departure from the central entrance of the American Four Square. Although the building is three stories, the setback of the third floor creates the feeling of a two-story home. The design elements such as the columns and vertical lines and the elongated capitals create a vertical rhythm.
Once inside, the horizontal lines of the interior space are apparent. The open space extends from the dining room on the left, through the living room and onto the semicircular sun porch, creating a wide open feeling focused on the lake. A study off the living room opens onto a terrace facing the lake. The fireplace has a simple surrounding motif with terra cotta corner tiles in the lotus design. Otherwise, the interior woodwork is simple in design.
The main staircase to the second floor is directly across from the entrance hall. A temporary wall has been constructed which blocks the view of the staircase. The railing has turned spindles. The leaded glass windows at the landing repeat the lotus flower and leaf design of the exterior. This window design is also used in the entrance hall.
Four bedrooms radiate from the upstairs hallway. Each has a small porch. The bedroom arrangements have not been altered, but the one at the top of the stairs, with wood paneling, was modified to include a kitchen when the second floor served as an apartment. The large bedroom at the southeast corner includes a semicircular porch. The northeast bedroom connects with a servant’s room, which is then connected to the garage below by a small staircase.
As you return down the servants staircase, you will see an altered kitchen area. The octagonal area, set up as a breakfast room, is separated from the food preparation area by a high counter. This design dates from the 1970s.
This home is one of the two remaining Maher homes in Edgewater. While George Maher built other homes in Chicago and the suburbs, we are hopeful that at least one of his Edgewater homes will be preserved as a legacy of the architect who created historic Edgewater. His designs show an effort to blend and integrate the styles of the 19th century with the designs of the 20th.