Sunday, March 1, 2015

Henry Grusendorf House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Henry Grusendorf House (1886) Gustav Bloedner, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

By the time Henry Grusendorf built his imposing 3-story house on Hoyne Avenue in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood in 1886, the entrepreneurial 57-year-old had tried several different business ventures in a few different professions and in two different states before hitting the jackpot in the Chicago lumber market.

  [Henry Grusendorf House, 1520 N. Hoyne Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

He was born in Germany in 1829, came to the U.S. in 1850, and settled in a town west of Chicago called Cottage Hill - which changed its name to Elmhurst in 1870. After 4 years, and various business ventures, Henry joined his father and brother and moved across the mighty Mississippi, settling in Iowa. He got into the hotel business, and in 1855 married Dora Neddmayer a young woman who had migrated to the U.S. from the same German town as Henry. But apparently Iowa wasn't exactly Henry's cup-of-tea since soon after his marriage he was back in Cottage Hill where he acquired a small country store, providing provisions for the town's 199 residents. The grocery and dry goods business held Henry's attention for the next four years before he headed back to Iowa in 1860. Then in 1862 he crossed the Mississippi once again, but this time he settled in Chicago and where he became a commission agent. He would remain in the city for the rest of his life, even though there were a few more job changes on the horizon.

  [Henry Grusendorf House, Wicker Park National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

By the time Henry hired architect Gustav Bloedner to design a home on a wide double lot on Hoyne Avenue in 1886, he had opened a wholesale grocery business which he operated for less than a year, had become a member of the Chicago Board of Trade, re-entered the commission trade business, and in the summer of 1867 he started Henry Grusendorf & Co., lumber dealers. Never one to sit still, Henry went through several different partners and several different name changes, yet lumber remained the mainstay of his business adventures. And although he made a nice income in the lumber trade, he didn't rest on his wood shavings. In 1902 the Directory of Directors listed Henry as one of the directors of the Mackolite Fireproofing Co.

  [Henry Grusendorf House, Wicker Park Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Dora died months after the house was completed, leaving Henry a widower with a teenage son to raise. He remarried, but became a widower once again when Augusta Grusendorf died in 1906 at the age of 67. When Henry died in 1913 his son Edward - who had joined his father in the lumber biz - and Edward's wife were living with Henry, and 1520 N. Hoyne Avenue would remain their home address for another decade. As the neighborhood changed and the large single family homes along Hoyne were divided into apartments or chopped-up into rooming houses, the old Grusendorf house held on to its status as a single family dwelling into the late 1950s before it too was broken-up into a multi-family dwelling, which is where it stands today.

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