Sunday, February 22, 2015

West Burton Place - Carl Street, Chicago
 by: chicago designslinger

 West Burton Place - Carl Street, Chicago / Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger

In urban history a story is often told about artists moving into older, neglected areas large cities because the rent is cheap, and artists are generally poor. In the late 1920s, an enterprising Chicago-based artist got a few friends interested in moving into a neighborhood originally settled by the city's German speaking community in the 1870s. But the area was changing, becoming more transient, on the decline, and therefore cheap to live in.

  155 W. Burton Place / Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger

When artist/contractor/entrepreneur Sol Kogen took up residence at 155 W. Burton Place in the 1920s, the street was known as Carl Street. The building was nothing remarkable, just one of a number of 1880s-era Victorians that lined the block. But Sol was an enterprising individual, and he convinced his friend, and fellow Art Institute student Edgar Miller, to help him convert the "old" Victorian into an contemporary, modern structure. It was the beginning of the art community settling into Chicago's Old Town neighborhood.

155 W. Burton Place / Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger

Over the next decade, the Burton Place was transformed. The Victorian bric-a-brac was removed, the Mansard roofs were demolished, projecting bays were stripped of ornament and bricked over, and window openings were reworked as the artist/owner saw fit. #151 was built in 1887 and remodeled in the 1930s, which is apparent when you consider the windows. Supposedly, they were scavenged from the 1933 Chicago World's Fair when the giant exhibition closed and demolition of the Fair began.

  156 W. Burton Place; 161 Burton Place / Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger

In this panel of pictures you can see what an original building looked like and how one was reworked. The photo on the left shows a Victorian era facade alongside a remodeled facade, created when Kogen and several artists converted a group of buildings on this side of the street. In the picture on the right, the redone #161 overwhelms its Victorian neighbor at #159.

    147 W. Burton Place; 152 W. Burton Place / Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger

The photo on the left shows #147 with its intact 1880s facade; take note of the projecting bay window. The photo on the right is #152. You can still see the outline of the original bay of #152, but it has been enclosed and given a sleeker, cleaner profile which was much more in keeping with the "modern" style of the 1930s when this building was redone.

161 W. Burton Place / Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger

Here at 161 Burton, you can't help but feel the pull of the contemporary design aesthetic of 1940, which obliterated the Carl Street building constructed in 1879, and turned the single famliy home into several apartment units.

    160 W. Burton Place / Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger

If you look closely at the flat facade of #160, you can see hints of the original window openings in the shadows created by the brickwork. This building contains a line of terra-cotta glazed tiles which Edgar Miller said were reproductions of his work done by Kogen, without Miller's approval or authorization.  

 160 W. Burton, detail of sculpture / Images &Artwork: chicago designslinger

Here are some close-up shots of the sculptural pieces.

  143 W. Burton Place/ Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger

When you are riding the southbound La Salle Street but you can't help but notice this building at the corner of Burton Place. The now retro-looking, modern design continues along the La Salle street side of the apartment house, and was built by artist Theophil Reuther. I should say he reworked the original building into the Theophil Studios apartments located at #143 Burton.

  Sidewalk on the east side of the street starting at #151 / Images & Artwork: chicago designslinger

These buildings are still lovingly maintained. I have no idea whether or not artists still occupy any of the apartments which were carved out of large Victorian homes years ago, but it's nice to see that the reworked, remodeled buildings have survived. Right down to the sidewalks.

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