Cuneo Family House
by: chicago designslinger
[Cuneo Family House (ca. 1889) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
One of the more remarkable finds along a street with many remarkable architectural features, is an amazing example of how metal can be molded into shapes that seem to defy the alloys rigid nature. Coils, and vines of delicately wrought leaves have wrapped this greystone mansion on State Parkway for all of its 122 years. That the house was able to hold on to these decorative accoutrements, especially during the Second World War when the city was virtually stripped of anything iron (like railings and fencing) to support the war effort, may be a testament to the fact that the house remained in the hands of one family for over 70 years.
[Cuneo Family House, 1364 N. State Parkway, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
John B. Cuneo left Genoa, Italy in 1857 with his wife Katherine and two young sons, and came to Chicago. He opened a grocery store where Lawrence, Andrew, and Frank (born in Chicago in 1862) got their first taste of the retail trade, and where they must have realized that real money was to be made in wholesaling and not retailing. Because in 1879 Andrew joined Garibaldi & Arata, wholesale fruit traders, becoming a partner in 1882. In 1880, Frank joined Garibaldi & Cuneo, while brother Lawrence formed Cuneo & Boitano with Louis Boitano. Andrew left Garibaldi and Frank, and joined forces with Lawrence. Boitano left the brothers in 1893, and the firm went on to sell massive amounts of fruits and nuts under the name Cuneo Bros. While all of this moving around and trading up was going on, John's three sons built large single-family homes within blocks of one another on the city's near north side. Lawrence on La Salle Boulevard, Andrew on Astor Street, and Frank on State.
[Cuneo Family House, Gold Coast National Historic District, Chicago/Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Garibaldi & Cuneo grew into one of the largest fruit and nut wholesalers in the country. The company cornered the banana market in the U.S., and Frank caught a lot a flack for trying to fix prices. He left State Parkway (then State Street) in 1906 when he moved farther north, literally, to a house on Sheridan Road. Frank had purchased a piece property at the corner of Wilson Avenue and Sheridan which inluded a large single family home. Thinking that Wilson could be come a major commercial district and profitable real estate investment, he had the entire multi-ton, three-story brick house moved two blocks north as he began transforming Wilson from a sleepy, quiet, primarily residential avenue into a thriving, commercial hot-spot. Andrew meanwhile left his house on Astor and moved into Frank's 18-room greystone mansion, where the elder Cuneo brother died in 1927. The Cuneo family continued to call the State Street house home when Andrew's daughter and her husband Dom Rocca took over as owners. And in 1947, Rosemary Cuneo Rocca was married in her family's homestead wearing great-grandmother Katherine's wedding lace. In 1960 the last member of the Cuneo family left the great house, and after a few subsequent owners and a restoration or two, it remains a single family residence to the present day.