This home was built by Charles Rascher in the Summerdale subdivision of West Andersonville. The date of the permit is April 5, 1894. Rascher came to the area after 1890, just before he sold his Rascher’s Insurance Map Publishing Company to the Sanborn Company. The original address of this home was 134 Wright Street, the name given the street by Louis Henry in the earliest plat maps of Summerdale. Rascher moved here with his partner, William Sternberg, who built the home behind this one in 1896. Rascher hired A.E. Norman to construct several homes in this subdivision in order to attract buyers. However, no record of the architect or builder of this home has been found. Norman was known as a builder prior to 1900 and then, later, he qualified as an architect.
This home was designed in the Romanesque style, with elaborate stonework and Roman style brick. These elements are used to create a horizontal emphasis through the use of bands of rusticated stone in two sizes at unequal intervals. This design element is used on two sides of the corner home.
The façade is divided into sections, with a decorative front gable that showcases the talents of a craftsman working in wood and metal in the stick style, which was popular in the 1880s. In the left section, there are two arched windows on the second floor, above the wide oak front door and small window. In the section to the right is a single rectangular window and a wide arch window outlined in rusticated limestone on the first floor. This arched window is divided into three parts, with the central window featuring beveled glass above. At the second floor level, a turret is attached to the corner of the house. It is decorated in great detail with unique raised wood designs looking something like a wedding cake. The turret, a favorite element of the Queen Anne style, is another indication of the eclectic combination of style influences in this unique home. The beautiful beveled glass in the front window and the side oval window show Charles Rascher’s love of beauty. The original porch was replaced with a metal one that the new owners hope to change.
Since this building is divided into two units, the entrance is not original. The Sanborn Map of 1905 shows the home to be a single family home. As you enter the first floor unit, you must pass down a long hallway which opens into a reception hall. Since the original plans are not available, we can only guess at the original floor plan. What is most noticeable at first are the high ceilings - over 10 feet in height. In addition, the doorways have been reframed to close off the transoms above each opening. The transoms were an older effective way to circulate air in a home before air-conditioning. Their removal is another indication of the Rascher family’s interest in updating the home. Through the reception hall, you can reach the first of two parlors, the dining room and another back hallway, which opens onto the kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms.
The dining room is large and elegant. The plaster ceiling medallion, which holds the chandelier, is a design that is repeated in both parlors. It indicates an earlier style and gas lighting fixtures. This area did not have electricity when this home was built.
The second parlor is connected to the dining room and may have had pocket doors in the entrance. The focal point of the room is the fireplace, with elegant tiles and an oak surround. It is separated from the first parlor by only the framework of a wide doorway. Both parlors have ceiling medallions, but the original fixtures have been removed. The new owners are looking forward to the challenge of finding replacements for these fixtures and the restoration of this home to some of its former style. All the floors in these rooms have newer oak flooring.
In the second hallway, the kitchen is to the left. In it you will see the original built-in hutch, which is painted white as it would have been in the 1890s. The woodwork in this room is original and may give an indication of the original woodwork which was replaced when the home was reconfigured. The back porch off the kitchen was open in the original house.
This large and spacious home has been purchased recently and we are delighted to have the opportunity to show it in this tour. The new owners will take their time to work on this restoration and now we can appreciate the challenges they face and the beauty and graciousness of one of the oldest homes in the area. The Rascher family owned this home in West Andersonville for three generations. It is listed on the City of Chicago landmark survey. For the community of West Andersonville, it is truly a landmark.