Friday, February 20, 2015

Lucius B. Mantonya Flats
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Lucius B. Mantonya Flats (1887) Curd H. Gottig, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Although only three stories tall, 1325 N. Dearborn Street in Chicago has several interesting components - some you can see, some you can't. First, and most obviously, there are the Moorish arched windows, not a common sight around the city in 1887 when the building was constructed, or today for that matter. Then there are the names associated with this atypical looking 3-flat, the regal sounding Lucius B. Mantonya, original owner and builder, and the eccentric sounding Curd H. Gottig, the architect. Unusual nomenclature that fits perfectly with this eye-catching apartment dwelling.

  [Lucius B. Mantonya Flats, 1325 N. Dearborn Parkway, Chicago /Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The Mantonya name had been passed down to Lucius from his Huguenot ancestors, and although we may think of Curd and its relationship to lemons, the name is not unknown in the architect's native Germany. There was a very famous German actor named Curd Jurgens who played the perfect villain in the James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me. Mantonya apparently made a killing in his shoe and boot business because it provided him with the funds to invest in lots of Chicago real estate. His Dearborn Street building was one of a number of properties he owned along the avenue, and are known today as the Mantonya Flats. Flats was the term often used to describe a Chicago apartment building, and although old fire maps designate the structure as a "Flat" building in the 1920s, the mark given in the 1906 map was a "D" for "dwelling," indicating a single family home. And in the 1894 edition of the Chicago Blue Book, Tuesday was receiving day at Mr. & Mrs. L.B. Mantonya's home, 493 Dearborn, the building's address prior to the citywide street address re-numbering system begun in 1908.  

 [Lucius B. Mantonya Flats, Gold Coast National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

By 1909 the Mantonyas were living further down Dearborn in another one of Lucius' recently constructed properties. And by the 1950s, when this building was a multi-unit rental, the Mantonya was bracketed on either side by properties that had been converted into rooming houses as the Gold Coast neighborhood began a decline which had started during the Great Depression, and the Mantonya wasn't spared. Some Chicagoans may remember the many years that the building was covered under a layer of battleship grey paint. Today the paint colors on the unusual Moorish arched, keyhole windowed facade look much better than the drab military color, although it's interesting that the blue stripe which has been there for decades, still remains.

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