John B. Lord House
by: chicago designslinger
[John B. Lord House (1896) Charles S. Frost, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
John B. Lord was a tie man. Not of the silk necktie variety, but of the wood train track variety. The Ayer & Lord Railroad Tie Company sold around 4,000,000 pieces of creosote-soaked wood in 1896, the same year Lord moved into his Kenwood mansion.
[John B. Lord House, 4857 S. Greenwood Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Lord didn't start-out in the tie business, the Massachusetts native began his career helping-out his father in the grain and flour business. Then in 1882 he saw an opportunity in providing railroad companies with the cross ties that helped hold the steel rails in place and formed a company with C.W. Powell in Paris - Illinois not France. It didn't take the partners long to realize that they might make better business connections in the nation's railroad hub and moved to Chicago two years later. There Lord met Edward Ayer who had made a fortune in the railroad commission business, and in 1893 Ayer & Lord began cranking out ties to the tune of 6,000,000 annually by 1900, becoming the largest tie producer in the country.
[John B. Lord House, Hyde Park - Kenwood National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
With the money rolling in Lord made the decision to build a house befitting a rising star in Chicago's business firmament. His business partner Mr. Ayer lived in a massive house in the city's Gold Coast neighborhood, but Lord was already living in the fashionable South Side Kenwood neighborhood where he selected a large 100 x 100 foot lot on the northeast corner of Greenwood Avenue and 49th Street as the location for his new home. Greenwood had some of the largest single family residential lots in the Kenwood-Hyde Park area, so Lord would be joining a number of his fellow monied business associates on the street. He selected architect Charles Frost who knew a thing or two about designing houses for the Chicago's. Frost, along with Henry Ives Cobb, had designed the city's most recognizable residence in 1882, Bertha and Potter Palmer's "castle."
[John B. Lord House, Kenwood Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
The Palmer mansion was a great pile of crenelated stone, for the Lords it was dignified pressed brick enhanced with a few classical flourishes in copper and terra-cotta. The three-story house served Lord's purpose until 1919 when the tie-maker moved from the south side to the north side. He sold the house to Louis Vierling, owner of the Vierling Steel Works for $50,000 and a trade. Vierling knew the Lord house well, he lived around the corner on Kenwood Avenue in a 9-room house, squeezed into a 30 foot wide lot. As part of the deal Lord was willing to take the $30,000 Kenwood address, the 50 grand in cash, to make the move northward and into a large cooperative apartment on East Lake Shore Drive. The Vierling family moved half-a-block and into Frost's classically symmetrical dwelling where Louis Vierling died in 1930 at the age of 76.