April 01, 2011

A History of My Block

Once Historical-ish Stratford Place
Some Background
In the years between 1890-1910, after the annexation of the City of Lake View in 1889, came an era of intellectual and architectural awakening to be called the City Beautiful Movement. A dense and excellent book was published in 1893 about the evolution and creation of public parks, grand boulevards and gardened cemeteries, that highlights this movement. It was called Chicago: The Garden City.
The Columbian Exposition of 1893 composed of monumental white classical buildings arranged along a broad mall; became a new, orderly vision for futuristic cities that would be a stark contrast to the crowded and messy reality that was the 19th century architecture. A leader in this was the architect Daniel H. Burnham. He was to say, "Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood." Burnham had in mind the kinds of innovations that the European visionary Georges-Eugène Haussman, had in mind for Paris; sweeping aside whole parts of a town to build wide boulevards and monuments, long vistas, colonnades, gardens for the dead, and spacial beer gardens entertainment areas. This is the era that Stratford Place was named. In the earliest days of American urban development streets tended to be named for landmarks, like Church, Market, Monument, Canal, Wall, Court, and Dock, and obvious topographic or hydro-logical features like Hill or Water, or references to the street's position like East or Middle. Often major streets would be named for symbols of nature, power and authority. This was in the era a ½ block street called Stratford Place, originally called Newport Avenue, got its name on this bloggers' street.
The section of Newport Avenue nearest the lakefront between Evanston (Broadway) Avenue and the lake was apparently created as an extension of an existing street sometime between 1890 - 1892. Prior to 1890 this roadway was non-existent. By 1897 eastern segment of Newport was renamed Stratford Place after the birth-home of a world renowned playwright's hometown.
I began this Blog with a Parking Lot
at 505 Stratford Place
 photo - Garry Albrecht 2011
 photo - Garry Albrecht 2011
 photo - Garry Albrecht  2011
 photo - Garry Albrecht  2011
I was always intrigued of the dwelling that was protected by this ornate metal fence. The answer began with the construction of a mansion in 1912. The Behr mansion was designed by architect George W. Maher in 1914 and with another building on at 551 Stratford Place. Edith Lehmann Behr was the daughter of the six million dollar Lehmann Estate while he husband, Leslie, claim to fame was a 'wealthy sportsman' who died in 1938. The remaining Behr family would later move to Lake Forest shortly after his death. The building did not survive beyond the 1960's according to an aerial map of that period. 
(click on image to enlarge)
The Construction Phase 1914
view from Stratford Place before the fence
view from the then Sheridan Road with back entrance
images - 'Construction News Magazine' via 
LakeView Historical contributor Kevin Peterson
R.W.R.Capes via Tom Morrisey, Original Chicago-Facebook
The Chicagoan
with a story about her parents and their investments
all her money was inherited by her father who owned the 
Fair Department Store - a sorta version of Marshall Fields
 both postcards - Ebay
When EJ Lehmann died in 1900 he left his wife and family 10 million dollars. In 2018 with a inflation rate of 3% per year that would be 354 million dollars today.
Edith's husband and her daughter - another Edith

The Chicagoan
E J Lehmann owned a farm
photo - Ebay
 a millionaire bought it in 1942
According to a LakeView Historical contributor, Kathy Judge Blacklock, Ms. Young died in 1961 leaving the estate on Stratford Place. “Temple Sholom bought the house in 1961 for $195,000 after Mrs. Young's death. They planned to use the building for temple activities, chiefly women's activities. But in 1967, it was still standing because a newspaper story talked about the house being vandalized and that it had been empty for a while. Mrs. Young [the last owner] was a big socialite and left a million dollars’ worth of jewelry when she died. [with] no heirs.” Kathy got this information for Newspapers.com
An Aerial View of Belmont Harbor 
 this 1959 press photo is part of my collection
a zoomed view of the Young's home next to Temple Sholom
within a decade it was gone
Look closely toward the right of the image below on the south side of the block is the old Behr mansion. Sometime during the middle to late 1960's the mansion disappeared from aerial view due to unknown event. I have not discovered the reason for the mansion's demise but I do know the space was converted to a parking lot for the congregation at Sholom Temple by the early 1970's and has been a parking lot ever since. My guess is like many large residences of that era the residence was left to decay and later demolished.
1962 aerial view of the general area
with a zoomed view below
 a 1973 zoomed view - now a parking lot below
all images - NETR Historic Aerials
The Permits for Demolition 
According to these permits that I obtained from the City of Chicago 'old buildings department' a coach house was also demolished in 1987 
A Famous Architect Started Here
George Maher
The architect for 505 & 551 Stratford Place
'Chicago architect George W. Maher was a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright who helped popularize the enduring Prairie School style of architecture for which Wright is better known. George W Maher began his architectural career soon after the family’s arrival in Chicago, as an apprentice at the age of 13. By the late 1880's, he joined Joseph Silsbee’s firm, where he worked alongside Frank Lloyd Wright for nearly three years. Both Maher and Wright began designing houses in the early 1890's, for themselves and a small list of clients, largely within the prevailing style of the time—Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and Gothic Revival. Mr. Maher built his home in the North Shore neighborhood of Kenilworth, and Wright in the Western Suburb of Oak Park.
This sample of his work was for sale in 2017 and located in Buena Park and constructed in 1913. The 505 Stratford building was constructed the following year in 1914. Here are some interior views of the residence in Buena Park. The 505 building may have had a somewhat similar flare to its interior.

Another Residence by Maher
551 Stratford Place
This home was built almost ten years before 
the house at 505 Stratford Place. Notice the two different styles. Most of these type of homes can be seen in Edgewater - another location for George Maher
image - Art Institute of Chicago

images - Art Institute of Chicago
advertisement -  Art Institute of Chicago
The article below is about how the building was to be replaced by a 'flat' or apartment building. The article is dated October 29, 1929 four days after the stock market collapsed.  I am assuming the developer lost funding. The original house still exists at 551 Stratford Place. The exterior of the house is original while the interior had been completely renovated in the 2000's to meet the needs of the current family. In fact, the when the current owners of the house renovated the interior that found a walled-up stain glass window plus lots of whisky bottles from the original labors.
a Planned Development ended by the Depression
photo - Hub Pages
 551 Stratford Place is the last remaining 
single family house on the block as of 2018
Lois Weisberg lived in the house for decades
The Historical Timeline of Stratford Place
Charles T. Gilbert Real Estate Map 1890  
It would appear my street did not exist prior to 1890.
The map below indicated once the street was constructed the initial name of the street was Newport Avenue, an extension of the block east of Halsted Street. It appears the street may have been constructed immediately after that map was published. The font 'Newport Ave' appears to be typed on the map itself just after it was rolled of the presses.
 Rand McNally & Co., 1892 
Sometime between the years 1892 and 1897 the eastern part of Newport Avenue was renamed Stratford Place.
Stratford Place in 1913 - Chuckman Collection
According to a blog by Christopher Payne one of the houses depicted in the above postcard image was designed by architect Joseph Silsbee who worked with George Maher the architect of 505 and 551 Stratford Place. Malcom Jamieson's home is in the foreground, Judge Jamieson's is next and the Harvey home is just beyond that according to http://jlsilsbee.blogspot.com. 
Judge Jamieson's residence at 38 Stratford Place - pre-1909 address
(pictured above)
The Judge
photo from the blog
According to this blog, "Judge Jamieson's home is not unique for architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee's work in this period and it is one of four known Dutch Colonial homes that he designed in 1888. There are a handful of unique features of in this particular design though. One is the incorporation of two discrete, almost complete, circle-rooms in the design. One is part of the sweeping front porch that stretches completely across the front of the home and wraps around the east side. From here you would have had a remarkable view of the lake, that was only a block away. Another circular room was situated on the northeast corner of the home and served as the judge's library."
The name of 'Stratford' apparently was chosen after the street in England called 
Stratford-upon-Avon - the home address of William Shakespeare. There is an apartment building modeled after the writers old street simply called Stratford Apartments.
The half moon driveway and the canopy is now long gone
postcard - Chicago History in Postcards
Modeled after ...

postcard below from Ebay
History of the Stratford Place via 
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps 
by History Map Works in 1887
this 1887 Sanborn Fire Map indicates no road 
a zoomed view of the 1887 map indicates that someone owned 10.6 acres of land - probably a farm house with shed
this 1909 Sanborn Fire Map indicates the street called Stratford Place with plans to extend the park. Belmont Yacht Harbor would not be open to public until 1913.
Sanborn Fire Maps
by Chicago Public Library
These maps show much greater detail
beginning with the year 1894
a 1894 Sanborn Fire Map of the general area
with zoomed sectional maps below
sectional 1
 sectional 2 above
sectional 3 below
The 1923 Maps
with sectional maps below

sectional 1 
that indicates 505 Stratford Place

  sectional 2
that highlights 551 Stratford Place
 with sectional 3 below
to Broadway
An Interactive Map for 1923
The 1950 Sanborn Maps
with sectionals below
 sectional 1
that highlights Sholom Temple at the upper right
  sectional 2 above
 sectional 3 below
 Early Residents in 1908 
The Chicago Blue Book of Selected Names of Chicago & Suburban Towns 
(reflecting the city-wide address changes)

Early Residents in 1912
Who Were They?
Most of the residents on my block 
were families of prominence:
* Mrs. Louis H. Boldenweck (and Felix) lived at 609 was apparently the sister-in-law of the only Mayor of City of Lake View in which William Boldenweck was mayor from 1887-1889. Mr Louis died from an accident in 1896 and his wife Louise died in 1923. Felix was her son and nephew of the former City of Lake View mayor
* Joseph B. Cavanaugh of 523 was 'executive head' of the Western Coal and Dock Company 
* William Birk president of the Birk Brothers Brewing Co.
George M. Harvey (& Company) who lived at 600 owned his own insurance company. (more on this one later)
William Nash who resided at 619 was a regarded as a 'leading bachelor' according to a Harvard University publication of 1908
* The Taylor's located at 561 (50 was the pre-1909 address) President of General Willington Coal Company
* Oswald F. Kropf  who resided at 554 was secretary and treasurer of a manufacturing company called Findeisen & Kropf as of 1918.
* There appears to be a connection between Oswald Kropf and Henry Beneke. Mr. Beneke gained an interest in Mr. Findeisen's company and the company had a new name of Beneke & Kropf Manufacturing Company as of 1919. Henry became VP and Oswald Kropf the president.
* Gilbert Scribner who resided 551 was a general contractor of stone masonry and had business with William Wrigley, Jr. who was the future owner of the Cubs and baseball field.
* Theodore Fathauer apparently owned a lumber company.
* R. A. Junker who resided at 629 apparently was general manager of Lincoln Ice Company that dealt with refrigeration.
A Crime at Stratford Place 
according to the Chicago Daily Tribune
This is a 1897 story about a disturbance on Stratford Place involving a cat and police from Halsted (Old Town Hall). 
The Old Town Hall was a combination of police, government, and post office until 1907

This 1900 article is about a visit by Admiral Philip to his             cousin who resided at 38 Stratford Place  
(click on article to enlarge)
1908  This article is about a theft of a resident who resided at 50 Stratford Place; one year before the 
city-wide address change
1912  Resident of 523 Stratford Place dies in 1912,
Joseph Cavanaugh - man of industry
1912  This a segment of a longer notice indicates purchase of property at 505 Stratford Place
This family owned a well known Department store in the Loop called The Fair. Edith's daughter (also named Edith) and son-in-law would occupy the residence on 505 by 1916
1913  Mrs. Behr's heir/owner of her deceased husband's store, The Fair, seemed to bit of a snob
1916  Pre-Temple Sholom - A land speculator purchased property along Stratford Place, Cornelia and Sheridan Road (inner LSD) 12 years before the construction of Sholom Temple

1918  This article below is a tale involving a 
resident's automobile and this 'rough fellow'.
1918 Edith's mother dies 
   This article indicates the total wealth of 
E.J. Lehmann, CEO and owner of The Fair.
 Upon his death in 1900 he left to his wife and children an estimated inheritance in 2015 dollars 
is over 250 million
The last of the Lehmann Estate Sold in 1953
The Lehmann's were major property owners in Lake View
In 1924 the construction of the luxury 
Stratford Apartments 
1926  This article is about the construction of apartment Co-op complex located west of the Stratford Apartments at 532-536 Stratford Place 

You can view & zoom with the following link the enlargement
photo - Photographic Images of Change
a Brochure of the Building
 Built in 1927


images - Art Institute of Chicago 
via a Moody's 1944 publication
'Stratford-Cornelia Corporation Incorporated [owner] in 1935 is to acquire property securing the former 534 Stratford Place Building Corp first 614s pursuant to reorganization of property under section 77B of Bankruptcy Act Bondholders received one share of stock for each $100 bond Property Comprises land owned In fee 15 story apartment building erected thereon located at 534 36 38 Stratford Place and extending through to 535 37 39 Cornelia Ave Chicago. Building of face brick and stone fireproof construction contains master rooms and 392 auxiliary rooms divided into 138 apartments' 
image - my collection
1926  This is an article about the construction of Sholom Temple by its south-side congregation
The corner stone was set in place in 1928
2013 Views of the Building
by Garry Albrecht

above photos - Garry Albrecht 
photo - Sholom Temple-Facebook
 photos - Sholom Temple-Facebook
The Historical Path to Lake View 
1927 This is an article about the apartment complex located at 609 Stratford Place
photo above - Garry Albrecht
photo below - Chicago Metro Area Real Estate

According to Chicago Metro Area Real Estate The '609 Stratford was built in 1924. It is a quaint vintage courtyard elevator building that houses 30 condos within its 6 stories. The condos are divided among the 2 towering buildings which are connected into one entrance and lobby. The entrance is an architectural wood door encased within ornate carved stone. The condos in this vintage building are large 2 and 3 bedroom units with only 2 apartments at each elevator lobby. Each unit also has a private door off their kitchen which leads to the service elevator and the back stairway. These vintage condos have spacious living rooms, high ceilings, wood-burning fireplaces with stone mantels and separate dining rooms. Most have retained the butlers pantries off the kitchen which provide extra prep and storage space. The have ensuite bedrooms and deep closets for a vintage. These units have numerous windows including a large bay in the living room.'
This was my first experience on the block in 1993 on the top floor with a east-side window view of the harbor
photo - Photographic Images of Change
1935  Another Edith Behr (same name & daughter of) of 505 Stratford Place is to be married
(click to enlarge)
1936  Another Wedding on Stratford
1937  Marriage is the news of the day 
1939  Moving day at 540 Stratford Place 
1940  Owner of Brauer Cafe Dies

This resident of Stratford Place owned this renowned building in Lincoln Park - the park
originally called Lincoln Park Refectory
1908 photo - Art Institute of Chicago
1908 photo - Lincoln Park Zoo Magazine
1911 photo - Art Institute of Chicago
 His wife would move to Broadway & Barry in 1928
A Lincoln Park Zoo Magazine Review
'Designed by Dwight Perkins in 1908 & originally known as the South Pond Refectory the now called Café Brauer is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1987, The Lincoln Park Zoological Society became responsible for a full-scale restoration of Café Brauer, most of which hadn’t been used since the late 1930's. Many original details, including the entire tile roof, were re-created or restored, which attracts wedding parties that marvel at the beauty of this treasured building.' 
 Scandal on Stratford!
Laws were established after this to protect
 'special need' person of Illinois
(click article below to enlarge)
It began in the Fall of 1941 til 1943


A Fine Only in 1943
1953  War hero & a Lake View High Graduate
Also in 1953
This article tells a tale of the Belmont Harbor area as well as an indicator of the status of the original homes on my block - from single family dwellings to single room occupancy. This was the era for mansion tear-downs & the construction of the 4+1 style apartments.
(click on article to enlarge)
1957  A parking lot was planned in the middle of 
Stratford Place at 554. Today is it is the back end of building located on Cornelia Street - the pool
(click on article to enlarge)

1963 This is a classified ad (lower left) indicates values of the time; an era of vintage tear-downs of 
single family dwellings called 4+1's.
Since 1952 citizen organizations have tried to slow the growth of single occupancy particularly called 4+1's. By the early 1970's the city council issued ordinances that severely hampered the construction of anymore construction permits of this type of building.  
1964  Apparently, Temple Sholom invited a Nobel Peace Prize candidate to Stratford Place on October 21 - his name was Martin Luther King. King would accept the nomination on December 10th the same year in Olso, Norway.
600 Stratford Place
Blue Print in 1888
image - Art Institute of Chicago via Explore Chicago
(click to enlarge article below)

2007   The 'A Victory for History' article highlighted the possible preservation of the old Harvey House 
at 600 Stratford Place
Pre-2007 Harvey House
back of the house - Art Institute of Chicago
 Art Institute of Chicago via Explore Chicago
Below is an image from a video feed of the fire that destroyed the Harvey House in the 2006
the aftermath
wood beam ceiling construction: an after the fire photo
Art Institute of Chicago via Explore Chicago
photo after the fire 
Art Institute of Chicago via Explore Chicago
photo after the fire 
Art Institute of Chicago via Explore Chicago
photo after the fire 
Art Institute of Chicago via Explore Chicago
2007 First planned development for the property
2012 A second proposed design for Harvey House was rejected by local neighborhood association with blue print.
the 600 property was still vacant as of early 2013
photos - Garry Albrecht
A 2013 Google Earth view of the vacant space

2013 from Stratford Place
2013 from Cornelia Avenue
both photos - Chicago Real Estate Local
600 Stratford Place 
photo - Garry Albrecht
photo - Garry Albrecht
600 Stratford Place 

photo - Garry Albrecht
600 & 606 Stratford Place
With an Another New Look 

 both photos above - Yo Chicago
  New construction for 538 Stratford Place and as of 2010 still not fully developed as planned by the latest developer.
A Home Renovation 
606 Stratford Place
the before
photo - unknown source
photo - Garry Albrecht
The new owners kept the facade and moved the main entrance from one side to the other
the construction period
photos - Garry Albrecht
the final product
525 Stratford Place
my former residence 1992-2014
with another perspective of 4+1's
 a 2009 view of my former building
vs a 2016 view since between renovated as of 2012
The interior was completed rehabbed
The Permits
This blogger resided at 525 Stratford Place. My apartment building was constructed in 1965. The now renovated accommodates over 45 units. My building and the building next to it (523 an existing 4+1 but not renovated) replaced a 8 story 32 unit 3000 sq ft area & 70 ft high apartment building. The images below are 1962 permits for 523 Stratford Place that would accommodate two 4+1's 
 images - Cook County Records Department 
The Rehab 525 Photos
the before photo
below the after photos
2012 photos - Garry Albrecht
In 2011 my building was sold to a rental management company called 'Reside Living'. The building was renamed 'Reside on Stratford', This company, a decade before, renovated former Belmont Hotel, now called 'The Belmont on Reside', located on corner of Sheridan Road & Belmont Avenue into luxury apartments. In 2012 Reside Living began the process of completely rehabbing my 47 year old building into 'city living redefined' -there words not mine. This rental company added new technology into a building meant for single/couple individual occupancy of the 1960's keeping to the originality of the purpose of the original 4+1's.
These intimate luxury apartments of the early 21st century will redefine the concept of 'single occupancy buildings' now meant for wealthier urban dwellers instead of its initial intent - the working poor. 
The Stratford Place Block Club
In 2013 Stratford Place had a short-lived Block Club that only lasted a few months before the organizer-me had to move to Oak Lawn to be with his aging father. Due to the fact that the street is located between two city wards both Alderman Cappleman & Tunney attended the meeting in the oldest remaining house on Stratford Place - 551. 
Below are some photos of the event. 
a flyer was distributed 6 weeks before the event 
 The location on the block was offered 
and the meeting room assembled
photos - Garry Albrecht
food was donated 
by Revolucion Mexican Steakhouse 
located on the corner of Stratford & Broadway
 Alderman's Cappleman & Tunney
Chicago Phoenix photos
19th District Cmdr. Elias Voulgaris
I moved to Oak Lawn in 2014 to live with my the then 86 year old father. I decide in January of 2020 that there is no reason why I can not reconnect and revitalize this association of neighbors, former neighbors who still are friends to me.

Post Notes:
Due to a family health issue with my father I moved back to my childhood home in Oak Lawn in 2014. I miss my old block and the folks in it. 
Here are the construction dates 
of the buildings on the block
 I compiled a list of construction dates of 
the buildings on my block as of 2010 

Important Note:
These posts are exclusively used for educational purposes. I do not wish to gain monetary profit from this blog nor should anyone else without permission for the original source - thanks!

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