Wednesday, February 18, 2015

John Henry Rapp House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [John Henry Rapp House (1879) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Thirty-nine-year-old wholesale liquor distributor John Henry Rapp was doing pretty well in 1879. So well in fact that he was able to purchase one of the larger pieces of property in Chicago's newly developing Wicker Park area and build an impressive, 5,600 square foot Second Empire era mansion for his family.  

[John Henry Rapp House, 1407 N. Hoyne Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Rapp and his wife Helena raised 5 children on their expansive city lot as his business continued to prosper. John brought his two eldest sons into the firm and life couldn't have been better, until one horrible day in 1897. Rapp had accused the company's collector and agent George Braunschweig of embezzlement and fraud and Braunschweig had recently been indicted by a grand jury. Distraught and looking for a way out of the mess, Rapp's former employee tried to find a way to settle with his employer before going to court, but to no avail. On April 23, 1897, Braunschweig knocked on the door of Rapp's Hoyne Avenue house and asked to speak to his former boss. When told Rapp was not at home, the man frantically called on Rapp's attorney, who lived nearby. Getting nowhere, Braunschweig then headed to the wholesaler's Milwaukee Avenue office where he found a sheriff waiting to arrest him. He asked to speak to Rapp privately, and was allowed into the owner's office. Within a split second Rapp's two sons and the sheriff's deputy heard a gunshot followed by a mortally wounded Rapp stumbling and falling to the floor outside the office door, and Braunschweig running down an aisle between stacked barrels of beer. Another gunshot followed and both the wholesaler and the collector were dead, victims of a murder and a suicide.

  [John Henry Rapp House, Wicker Park National HistoricDistrict, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

By 1915 the large single family home had been divided and converted into a multi-unit apartment building, which it remained for the next 90 years. On September 26, 2007 the county assessor's office recorded that 1407 N. Hoyne had been sold for $2,466,500. Yet when we were walking through the neighborhood and took these pics last summer, the yard was a little overgrown and the large house was standing empty.

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