Tuesday, February 24, 2015

810-812 N. Dearborn Street Row Houses
 by: chicago designslinger

[810-812 N. Dearborn Street Row Houses (ca. 1875) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

It wasn't long after the Chicago Fire had finally burned itself out in the early morning hours of October 10, 1871 that rebuilding in the devastated city got underway. At first there were the temporary wood-framed buildings, put-up in an effort to show that the city was already back in business, but within months brick and stone structures began popping-up all over the burnt district. Nearly the entire north side of the city had disappeared in the fire storm, and by 1873 new row houses were lining the ash strewn streets. The pair of houses at 810-812 N. Dearborn Street (once 226-228 Dearborn Avenue) were typical of the post-fire period, with their Italianate/Victorian-era decorative touches, tall first floor windows, and narrow 25 foot widths. What made them stand-out from many of their nearby neighbors were their height. The "English" basement didn't sit as far below grade as in most townhouse blocks, which pushed the first floor further above the sidewalk and gave the conjoined structures a bit more substance.

   [810-812 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

If you're standing at the corner of Chicago Avenue and Dearborn Street today it may be hard to believe that this was once one of the city's poshest residential intersections. This was a neighborhood lined with Blue Book addresses, and the row houses were located just down the block from one of Chicago's elite men's social clubs, The Union. The all male gathering spot roster included such names as Lincoln, McCormick, Field, Armour and De Koven. John De Koven's single family home built in 1873, stood a few blocks north on Dearborn. While Henry De Wolf, treasurer of the Illinois Central Railroad, could stroll up Dearborn from his row house at No. 226 (810 today) and join his fellow movers and shakers at the Union for dinner, a cigar, brandy, and a game of cards. When De Wolf died in 1893, his widowed mother, sister Mrs. Arthur Erksine, and a niece survived him and lived in the house until the early 1900s.

  [810-812 N. Dearborn Street, Washington Square Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

As the 19th century turned into the 20th, the neighborhood around Dearborn and Chicago began to change. The march of time and the growth of the city pushed the chic part of the north side further north. By 1906 the former De Wolf residence at No. 226 was no longer worthy of a Blue Book listing, but next-door-neighbor No. 228 was. Dr. & Mrs. Antonio Lagorio occupied the tall townhouse - now numbered 812 - where the doctor lived with his family upstairs, and practiced medicine as the head of the Chicago Pasteur Institute downstairs. Lagorio's father had come to the city from Genoa, Italy in the 1830s and the immigrant's son had graduated from Rush Medical College in 1879, becoming the first Italian-American doctor to practice in Chicago. Lagorio then went overseas to study under the French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur. In 1890, Lagorio returned to Chicago and opened the second Pasteur Institute in the United States in his hometown. He moved his practice from Randolph Street and into this near north side townhouse, treating patients from as far away as Ohio, Kansas and Minnesota with Pasteur's life saving vaccine for rabies, while also cultivating the serum for treating tuberculosis. Lagorio lived and practiced in his Dearborn Street row house until his death in 1944.
The mid-century saw even more changes for the pair of houses. By 1950, 810 Dearborn had been divided into 29 sleeping rooms, and 812 was divvied-up into multiple apartments. Then in 1986, the Alliance Française de Chicago moved into 810, tore out the old rooming house partitions, and converted the row house into offices and a library under the supervision of architects from the L’École Boulle in Paris. 812 joined the rehab momentum and has been spruced-up, providing office space for a group of attorneys.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.