John F. McConnell House
by: chicago designslinger
[John F. McConnell House (1885) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Although John McConnell didn't build his Hawthorne Place house until 1885, he'd been a resident of this Lake View neighborhood since the early 1870s. His father Edward had come to Chicago in 1831, and bought large pieces of unpopulated, grass-filled land. And John was born on one of Edward's earliest purchases, the family farm near 22nd and Halsted Streets in 1847. As a young man, McConnell had started a picture framing and molding business, but sold his interest in 1884 when he decided to follow his father into the world of real estate investment. Along with his brother Benjamin, John purchased large tracts of land in and around the Lake View community, as well as in the downtown commercial district, and the McConnell brothers were in business.
[John F. McConnell House, 546 W. Hawthrone Place, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
When McConnell built this large 2-story brick house, Hawthorne ended at the shore line of Lake Michigan, just a few hundred feet to the east. The real estate mogul played a large role in the extension of The Lake Shore drive as it crept north through his neighborhood in the 1890s, hoping to make it easier for potential customers to access the properties he owned nearby. As the long-time city resident grew into old age in the 1920s, and the former suburban area grew more dense, Hawthorne continued to maintain the granduer of its earlier years with large, single family homes on oversized city lots. Amazingly, the final piece of his father's farm wasn't sold until 1930, when John McConnell's heirs sold the block at 22nd and Lumber Street, the last parcel of the original land grant given by Native Americans to Edward McConnell in 1836.