Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ferdinand Kaufmann Buildings
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Ferdinand Kaufmann Buildings (1883/1887) Adler & Sullivan, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

A pair of relatively nondescript buildings in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood sit side-by-side, brick line to brick line, on North Lincoln Avenue. Built four years apart and designed by the architectural firm of Adler & Sullivan, the single-looking double buildings were nearly demolished - but somehow survived - to become one of only 15 projects still standing in Chicago, out of the nearly 200 they designed as a team.

  [Ferdinand Kaufmann Buildings, 2310-12 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

They look like any number of handsome brick buildings along this section of the Lincoln Avenue streetscape, and given that they were designed in the early part of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan's creative collaboration, they become all the more remarkable for having survived into the 21st century.

  [Ferdinand Kaufmann Buildings, City of  Chicago Landmark /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Louis Sullivan was hired by Dankmar Adler in 1879 when Adler left Burling & Adler to start his own firm. Over the course of the next couple of years Adler realized that his young draftsman had an extraordinary talent and Sullivan became a full partner, and his name was added to the door. It was around this time that a Chicago druggist named Ferdinand Kaufmann came knocking and asked if the architects would design a building containing apartment flats above a ground floor store on his vacant lot at 293 Lincoln Avenue. In 1883 Kaufmann's $10,000 three-flat was ready for occupancy, and four years later he returned to the firm for another building - right next door. Sullivan's decorative scheme hadn't reached the apotheosis of foliage expression quite yet, but he was already experimenting with more organic forms found in the facade's small limestone panels. Sullivan's tightly-bound, Egyptian-like motifs would appear on several buildings the firm designed around this time, before developing his own organic, decorative signature.

  [Ferdinand Kaufmann Buildings, 2310 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The year that the second building was constructed, the Chicago Lakeside Directory listed Ferdinand Kaufmann's home address at 293 Lincoln Avenue, today's 2310 N. Lincoln, with the 1888 addition at 297, or 2312 N. Lincoln. Yet, interestingly enough, Kaufmann & Co. - Ferdinand's drug store - was listed at 285, today's 2308 N. Lincoln Avenue, the building next door to the south, and not in his Adler & Sullivan designed buildings. And by 1894 the Kaufmanns had disappeared from the Lincoln Avenue listings in the Chicago Blue Book altogether, never to show-up again. The architects designed a handful of projects in and around Kaufmann's real estate investment, which have stood the test of time and changing real estate markets. But fate was not as kind to many of the team's other buildings, many of which fell to the wreckers ball in the 1960s, and early 70s before a preservation movement in Chicago began to take hold. The job that put the firm on the map, and brought them world acclaim, still stands on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway. But so many more have been lost, and now survive only in photographs and in the memories of those fortunate enough to have seen the buildings in person, before they became of pile of fragments and dust.

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