Saturday, February 21, 2015

George C. Prussing & Henry Hosmer Double House
 by: chicago designslinger

[George C. Prussing & Henry Hosmer Double House (1877) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

When George Prussing and Henry Hosmer moved into their double house in the late 1870s, they were part of a group of wealthy businessmen who were settling into a relatively unpopulated area of Chicago. Part of the burn district in the aftermath of the 1871 fire and located near what had once been the City and Catholic cemeteries, this block of Dearborn Avenue was on the cusp of becoming very fashionable.

  [George C. Prussing & Henry Hosmer Double House, 1516-1518 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Prussings lived in the tall, 3-story, bay-windowed doublet on the left hand side of the photo, while the Hosmers occupied the multi-windowed facade to the right. George Prussing made his money manufacturing brick, and used some of his pressed clay blocks to build buildings, which also increased the size of his personal bank account. The former president of the Illinois Brick Company, vice president of the Purington Paving Brick Company, and a director of the La Salle Portland Cement Company, died of a heart attack in his home on November 28, 1919, at the age of 73.

[George C. Prussing & Henry Hosmer Double House, Gold Coast National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Henry Hosmer made his fortune in grain. He became a member of the Chicago Board of Trade in 1858, 10 years after its founding, but didn't move to the city until 1877 when the double house was completed. After Henry died in 1892, his widow Alice continued to live in her comfortable surroundings with daughters Alice and Abbie, Alice's husband Dr. Robert Preble, and the Preble children.
On October 6, 1915 a fire broke-out in the Hosmer/Preble home, apparently caused by faulty wiring in the butler's pantry. Alice, Sr. was in the third floor sewing room at the time, where she suffocated as she made her way to the main hall staircase. Daughter Alice who was in the house along with three servants, tried to rescue her mother, but was fought back by the smoke. She jumped from a third floor window and landed on the roof of the porch where she suffered serious injury. She died the next day. The two were buried side by side in Graceland Cemetery, in a double funeral.
Robert Preble rebuilt, and lived in the house until 1926. His daughter Barbara was married in the family home in 1918. Eventually the single family dwelling was converted into a rooming house, while the Prussing's 3-stories plus basement, was subdivided into apartments. The duo have been restored and refurbished with a matched-set of sweeping metal stairs, a contemporary tip-of-the-hat to the duplicate double house.

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