1534, 38 & 40 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago
by: chicago designslinger
[1534, 38 & 40 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago (ca. 1878-1890) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Hemmed in between a 1970s high-rise and a 21st century school building are three survivors from Chicago's early Gold Coast history. Up until the 1950s the buildings on either side of 1534, 38 & 40 N. Dearborn Parkway looked very much like this extant trio. To the north, or left hand side of the picture, stood another large single family home followed by three conjoined extra-large single family dwellings. To the south, or left hand side, was a group of late 19th century single family townhouses. As time marched on and many of the old homes were converted into rooming houses, in 1955, the buildings north of the ochre-toned townhouse still standing at 1540 N. Dearborn were demolished and replaced by a women's residence called the Parkway Eleanor. Then in 1977 the row of townhouses that once stood directly to the south of the remaining cluster were demolished and replaced by the existing multi-storied, concrete-framed apartment building.
[1534 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago, Gold Coast National Historic District, Chicago/Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
When 1534 N. Dearborn Parkway showed-up on the scene around 1878, Dearborn was just an Avenue and the building address was No. 602. And it didn't have the recently added third floor mansard-roof addition, but did include a decorative iron rail that added a bit of flourish to the top edge of the porch roof. Ten years before No. 602's arrival, Dearborn Avenue still looked over the last bits and pieces of the Catholic Cemetery. Even before the fire of 1871 had cleared the area of its few standing buildings, the city had begun the process of relocating the dearly departed from the two adjacent burial grounds to parts further away from the rapidly expanding town. After the fire had wiped the slate clean, a few brave souls began constructing houses on the west side of the street as bodies were removed from the cemeteries and reinterred elsewhere. No. 602 followed in the tradition of its few Dearborn neighbors reflecting the popular taste in Italianate bracketing and bays, and was occupied by one of the owners of the shoe manufacturing concern of C.H. Fargo & Co. - Samuel Meeker Fargo and his family.
[1538 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago, Gold Coast /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
1538 was No. 604 when it was built. The dark-red rusticated-stone house with its Richardsonian Romanesque inspired arched entryway is the youngest of the three, having shown-up on the scene as the 1880s turned into the 90s. Although the same 25 feet width as its wall sharing neighbor to the south, the house was more prominently aggressive in appearance. This was where J.S. Barnes a men's hat manufacturer lived with his family. Barnes had started-out selling more than just hats in the old Tribune Building on Madison Street. Barnes & Co. once sold "ladies and gents water proof celluloid collars and cuffs in all fashionable shapes" among other mens and womens fashionable accessories. But by the time he built his Dearborn Avenue dwelling, it was men's hats all the way, and popular house styles along his street had changed as well.
[1540 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
The yellow-ochre, rusticated-stone structure at 1540 was built after its Italianate neighbor at 1534 but before the wall-sharing brownstone at 1538 squeezed itself in between. This mid-1880s addition to the block was occupied by the Truman Penfields, at what was then No. 606 Dearborn Avenue. The Penfield household not only included Truman and his wife Sarah Gaylord Penfield, but also relatives Miss Helen Starr and Mr. Truman Gaylord. In 1884 thirteen-year-old Truman - Gaylord not Penfield - came to Chicago from the Gaylord family homestead in Shelby, Michigan to live with his aunt and uncle while attending Alden Academy. He went then went back to his home state to attend the University of Michigan to study electrical engineering, came back to Dearborn Avenue in 1892, and at the ripe old age of twenty-one went to work as the manager of the subway and underground construction for the World's Columbian Exposition. When he wrapped things up at the World's Fair, he moved over to the Armour Institute and became an associate professor in the electrical engineering department. Then with the arrival of the 21st century one more change came to the upper portion of the 1500 block of North Dearborn Parkway. The Eleanor Foundation sold their prime corner lot to their neighbor the Latin School. The educational institution tore down the 1950s-era building and built a 5-story state of the art learning facility which the owners of the adjacent property at 1540 claimed caused their 120-year-old house to shift and sink a bit.