Thursday, February 19, 2015

James L. Houghteling Houses - John W. Root House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [James L. Houghteling Houses- John W. Root House (1887) Burnham & Root, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

James L. Houghteling was a man who made lots of money in banking and real estate. When business associate Potter Palmer began inviting his friends to join him building homes among the sand banks on the city's near north side in the early 1880s, Houghteling took the call and built himself, and his family, a fine home on the recently laid out Banks Street. As the neighborhood subdivided itself on its way on to becoming Chicago's famed Gold Coast, the banker purchased four lots around the corner on Astor Street and hired the architectural firm of Burnham and Root to design a row of four townhouses for him. You'll only see three standing there today, the house to the south, or left hand side of the picture, was torn down to make way for architect Bertrand Goldberg's 1961 Astor Tower high-rise apartment building.

  [James L. Houghteling Houses - John W. Root House, 1308-12 N. Astor Street, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Daniel Burnham and John Root have gone down in the annuls of architectural history as two of the finest architects this country has ever produced, and back in 1887 when Houghteling asked them to design some housing for his latest investment venture, they were on a roll. While known for their high quality work, they weren't architectural icons - not yet anyway. It was just another job in a busy office for a client who might bring in more work if was happy with the result. Apparently Root was happy with the work because he chose to move into the middle house located at No. 56 Astor street, later re-numbered 1310 N. Astor.

  [James L. Houghteling Houses - John W. Root House, Gold Coast National Historic District,  Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Root moved his family in, and all was good. Things got even better when he and  Burnham secured the supervising architect's role for the World's Fair which was to be held in Chicago in 1893. After a meeting at his house with other Fair architects in January 1891, Root came out on to the front stairs to bid farewell to his colleagues on a blistery cold and wet day. He contracted pneumonia and died a few days later. The city, his fellow architects, his partner in business, his wife and family, were all in a state of shock. Dora Monroe Root was now a widow with young children (including son John, Jr. who went on to become an acclaimed architect in his own right) and invited her father and sisters to live with her and help her get through this terrible tragedy.
It was here in Dora's Astor Street townhouse, that her sister Harriet Monroe organized and planned the publication of a magazine devoted to poetry. Monroe was a poet, biographer of her brother-in-law, and arts editor for the Chicago Tribune when she raised subscription funds from wealthy friends to start Poetry magazine, celebrating its 99th year of publication, and still based in Chicago.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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