Historic Chicago Subdivision in Decay: Samuel Eberly Gross Rowhouses of Fifth Avenue

Gabriel X. Michael 5 comments

2900 block of West Monroe Street, viewing northwest from an alley connecting Fifth Avenue and Monroe Street, April 2015. (Gabriel X. Michael/Chicago Patterns)

When renowned Chicago real estate developer Samuel Eberly Gross purchased swaths of land near present-day Fifth Avenue and Sacramento Boulevard, the area was not much of a neighborhood, but the undeveloped outskirts of western Chicago—very rural and surrounded by farms.

With the assistance of architect Lars Gustav Hallberg in 1887, he erected a series of upscale Queen Anne-style rowhouses to serve a growing, fashionable professional population working downtown; Chicago’s central business district was 3 miles to the east down Madison Street, and the recently established Garfield (then “Central”) Park was 4 blocks to the west at Homan Avenue (3400 West) for city residents’ enjoyment.

Continue reading »

On Death Row in Lake View: Gothic-Styled Herdegen-Brieske Funeral Home (Updated)

John Morris 8 comments

John Morris/Chicago Patterns


Update 03/29/15:

Crain’s Chicago Business reports the property was sold to Stone Street Partners for $3.8 million. In the article, Stone Street CEO David Trandel states they intend to keep the building intact as they develop around it–including 10 apartments.

NBC Chicago reports the entire interior will be gutted, and that the current owner is looking for retail or a restaurant to lease the space. Fortunately, it appears this structure won’t be a victim of facadism.

This outcome is the best that could’ve been hoped for, and we commend David Trandel of Stone Street Partners for recognizing the cultural and architectural significance of this building.

Original article from 11/2014 below.

At the intersection of Wellington and Southport, a 1920s Gothic-styled funeral home sits empty and faces an uncertain future. A few weeks ago it was released from the city’s Demolition Delay list, a status change that allows for demolition to proceed. Since 1985, this architecturally significant structure has been the Herdegen-Brieske Funeral Home. But business recently ceased operations and both the land and building are up for sale.

Continue reading »

From a Time Before the City: the ca. 1858 James Von Natta Farmhouse (UPDATED)

Gabriel X. Michael 3 comments
van natta home

4618 West Armitage Avenue, circa 1940. Photo courtesy of and copyright John Drury, Old Chicago Houses (1)

A few months ago at the Chicago Public Library, I came across the fascinating book Old Chicago Houses written by John Drury and published by University of Chicago Press in 1940. One particular story of an old Chicago farmhouse struck me: the James Von Natta home at 4618 West Armitage Avenue in present-day western part of the Hermosa neighborhood.


UPDATE: On October 2nd, 2014, a demolition permit was issued for the house at 4618 West Armitage Avenue (via Chicago Cityscape). This structure was not a part of the City of Chicago’s Historic Resources Survey in 1985, which may have at least provided a 90-day demolition delay review period, so it has seemingly fallen through the cracks of municipal historic preservation. As of today, the house was still standing in its same condition, with no apparent signs of demolition preparation yet (see photograph below). We will keep you notified of further developments on this disappointing turn of events.

Continue reading »

Saint Ignatius College Prep: A Legacy of Preservation

Avatar 4 comments


The handsome architecture of the Saint Ignatius College Prep campus has always intrigued me. Located at 1076 West Roosevelt Road in West Town, the private Jesuit high school sits next to the equally  impressive and historic Holy Family Catholic Church that catches the eye from many blocks away.

Continue reading »