Wednesday, February 18, 2015

John C. Scales House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [John C. Scales House (1894) George W. Maher, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When John Scales built this house in 1894 it was technically within the corporate    boundaries of the City of Chicago, but the area was so undeveloped back then that the future city neighborhood was more sub-urban than urban. Scales' architect was a young George Maher, who would go on to become a formidable practitioner of the Prairie School style of design, which makes the traditional Queen Anne, Gothically embellished, house all the more surprising.

  [John C. Scales House, 840 W. Hutchinson Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

John C. Scales came to Chicago with his parents in 1845 when he was just 4 years old, and his father set up a commission business in town, where John eventually became a partner. Scales, the son, invested his money in real estate and purchased a section of the Buena Park subdivision on the city's then remote north side. The sandy, grassy area was just starting to undergo development when Chicago won the bid to host the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Scales joined a consortium of north siders to make the pitch that the Fair grounds be located along the north shore lake front. The Fair board was looking at a number of sites in the city and had come to the conclusion that the event should be held along the lakefront, but weren't sure if it should be on the north shore or south shore. Scales and his team raised $300,000 and secured a commitment from area property owners that they would lease the required 300 acres of land to the Fair organization for the duration. The north side group also offered the Board a further commitment of $1,000,000 upon selection of the north side site. It seemed as though the Fair just might come to Buena Park, but when the Board of Governors took a final site selection vote, the south side location won, and as they say, the rest is history.

  [John C. Scales House, Hutchinson Street Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Since the Fair deal was dead, Scales built his house, divided his piece of Kenesaw Terrace, (today's Hutchinson Street) into large housing lots and sold them off bit by bit, while Maher went on to design several homes along the street, a visual progression of his stylistic evolution. Unfortunately for John and his wife Margaret, a house meant to celebrate their good fortune was the location of much sadness. In 1895, their oldest son John H. died and his funeral service was held in the home. Then in 1906 their son Albert died and his wake was held there. Son Ralph, married in 1907, died two years later and his funeral was held in his parent's home. When John C. died in 1921, survived by his son Lincoln, 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren, Margaret held services in the house, and moved shortly after to Phoenix, Arizona.

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