Edward Bankes House
by: chicago designslinger
[Edward Bankes House (ca. 1900) Henry Worthmann, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
In the early 1840s New York City real estate investor Thomas Suffern put some of his money into a piece of land located on the outskirts of a ten-year-old city called Chicago. He purchased the 160-acre section far out beyond the city limits, right next to a large piece of open prairie owned by the government. When the canal connecting Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River got underway, the Feds stacked-out large swaths of acreage far from the canal itself to provide future returns on their canal investment. Suffern himself began to invest the income he earned from his tobacco business into Manhattan real estate in the 1820's, developed the northern edge of Washington Square in the 1830s, and got out of the tobacco business as his real estate ventures began to bring in a much better return than the sale of dried nicotiana leaves.
[Edward Bankes House, 1036 N. Hoyne Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
His Chicago investment was far out-of-town, outlined today by Division Street, Chicago, Western, and Damen Avenues. Chicago Avenue, the only street plotted-out that far west in the mid-1840s, ended at a stone quarry located at the southwest corner of Suffern's acreage, at what today would be the intersection of Western and Chicago. The section made it into Chicago's corporate borders in 1851 when the city annexed a chunk of land west of town, which ended, appropriately, at the newly named Western Avenue. By 1862, seven years before Thomas Suffern's death, the 160-acre square had been evenly subdivided into smaller sections with streets named after his daughters Mary, Agnes, Janet, which eventually became Hoyne, Oakley and Augusta. There was a Suffern Street, now Leavitt, and Thomas, which still goes by that name. Suffern's family was still reaping the benefits of his 1840-era investment 60 years later when a 5-acre parcel bounded by Leavitt, Haddon, Thomas and Oakley Streets was sold by his estate to the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in 1900 - now the site of St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital. And it wasn't long after that sale that a Mr. Edward Bankes set his sights on a small piece of Thomas Suffern's remaining acreage.
[Edward Bankes House, Ukrainian Village Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
As the 19th century drew to a close the Suffern subdivision finally started to fill-up. Housing had first been constructed in the northwestern quadrant in the 1880s and the march of dwellings and commercial buildings moved in a southwesterly direction over the next 20 years. By the time Edward Bankes started buying-up property in the area, another street had been cut-through the area named Cortez. Bankes bought land along Cortez, centered on Hoyne Avenue, extending eastward to Damen and west to Leavitt. Between 1906 and 1907 he sold 5 of his vacant Cortez fronting lots for a tidy $7600, at a time when the average wage was $300/year.
[Edward Bankes House, Ukrainian Village /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
In 1905 Mr. & Mrs. Edward Bankes had moved into a large two-and-a-half story limestone fronted, pressed-brick-sided, 4,000 square foot house on the northwest corner of Cortez and Hoyne. It was one of the largest in the neighborhood and conveniently bordered by his Cortez Street investment. Largely populated by German-American immigrants, the area would undergo a major ethnic transformation just before and after the First World War. By the mid-1920s the community was an enclave of Slavic speaking peoples from Poland, Russia and the Ukraine. By the 1950s the Bankes' large single family dwelling had been divided into two apartments, and in 2002 the corner was included in the borders of the city's Ukrainian Village Landmark District - which fits snugly inside the original outline of Suffern's 160-acres.