This home in Young’s Addition to the City of Chicago was built in 1896 for A. Smith at a cost of $4,000. The mason was F.O. Johnson. A number of things are striking about the home, which is set back on the lot and positioned to have a side yard. One could imagine an even bigger side yard since the building to the south was built much later.
The design of the home indicates a French Chateau roof line combined with more curved peaked dormers. As was the convention with Queen Anne homes, the front door is placed asymmetrically to accommodate a formal parlor and a sitting room. The porch stretches across the front of the home fitting around the great curved bay. The columns are half height Doric in style, resting on a Joliet limestone base which was also used for the foundation stones.
As you enter the home through a small foyer, what you notice first is the beautiful oak woodwork and the bleached oak floors. The central hallway is designed so that the staircase extends to the front of the house. All the turned spindles on the staircase are original as is the built-in bench on the wall opposite the entrance.
In the formal parlor, the original chandeliers were gas and electric and so are the replacements. The mantel is a replacement and has been decorated in the style of the home. The original had a cast iron front and it added heat to the room. The baseboards in this room and throughout the house are 12 inches high. Notice especially the beautiful pocket doors with six panels.
In the second parlor, a large front window had a stained glass above. This has been replaced. The room has been redesigned with French doors and the removal of a wall separating the parlor from the dining room. Two built-in cabinets remain from the original room. The kitchen has been remodeled with a washroom added in place of the butler’s pantry.
As you ascend the staircase to the second floor, note the newel post with the light. The original was gas but it has been converted to electricity. The banister is a flat piece of oak with some decorative scroll-work at the landing. At the landing you will see windows that were probably stained or beveled glass. The owner hopes to replace these soon.
The second floor holds four bedrooms. The room above the parlor features an original fireplace with an elegant cast iron design of a scene from Romeo and Juliet. The other bedrooms are open, but their uses have been adapted. There is a walk-through closet between the two south rooms. In the hall outside the remodeled bath is an original linen closet.
The third floor was set aside for servant quarters with a washroom. At one point in the history of the home, it served as a rooming house and this area was an apartment. Note the change in the quality of the woodwork and doors on the third floor.
Before you descend the stairs, take a look at the view to the first floor. It is quite spectacular and indicative of the overall beauty of design and proportion in this 100+ year old antique home.
You may exit through the kitchen and enjoy a view of the beautiful backyard and garden. If you think that you’ve seen this home before, maybe you have. It was featured in some scenes from the Steven Seagal film, “Above the Law.” It has also been used in some Ford automobile commercials.