Monday, March 2, 2015

Michael J. Considine House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Michael J. Considine House (ca. 1889) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1853 a nineteen-year-old farmhand named Michael J. Considine left County Clare, Ireland in hopes of finding a better life in the United States. Like many of his fellow countrymen before him, Considine landed in New York and worked his way to the nation's emerging transportation hub, Chicago. He found work on a farm located not far from the center of town and settled in.

  [Michael J. Considine House, 1264 W. Lexington Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

But he didn't stay out-on-the-farm for very long. After just a couple of months he secured a position as a salesman at Frisby Bros. trade store, and like a sponge, over the next ten years soaked up all he could about about the the ins and outs of the wholesale trade business. In 1863 he left Frisbys, joined the Chicago Board of Trade, used what he had learned farming and trading and opened a hay and feed commission trade business. He had one location in the city's major wholesale trade district on Market Street as well as one just down the street from his his home at 418 Centre Avenue near 13th Street.

  [Michael J. Considine House, Near West Side, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The area around today's Roosevelt Road and Racine Avenue (the former Centre) had been turned from prairie grass into a bustling residential community by Irish immigrants starting in the 1850s. Michael and Catherine Follon Considine's cottage was typical of the type of housing that was squeezed into every available inch of grassland as more and more immigrants of Irish descent poured into the neighborhood. As his business, family, and income grew, Considine set his sights on a piece of property a few blocks north of his aging frame residence. It was located on a street where Irish businessmen who had found their American dream built expensive houses of brick and stone that overlooked a small park. The only open green space to be found in the densely packed and overly crowded community.

  [Michael J. Considine House /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Vernon Park had been plotted just about the time that Considine had arrived in Chicago. An unscathed survivor of the Great Fire in 1871, the street bordering the northern edge of the little pocket of green had become home to a number of well-connected, money-making, Irish-descended businessmen and politicians. Securing an address on Macalister Place overlooking the winding paths of Vernon Park was one of those moments in life when an immigrant teenage farmer who had settled in Chicago's Holy Family parish in the 1850s could say that he had arrived. In 1890 Mr. & Mrs. M.J. Considine & dr. were listed in the Chicago Blue Book along with their Macalister Place neighbors the Coughlans, Onahans, Devines and Ryans. Michael Considine died in his large red brick house in 1905 a wealthy man. The commission business not only provided an ever growing income, but also gave the feed and wheat trader enough extra cash to invest in real estate in the city and in farmland in LaSalle County, Illinois. Catherine Follon Considine finally left her old neighborhood not long after her husband's death, joined her sons, and moved to West Washington Boulevard in the city's Austin neighborhood. Macalister Place became Lexington Street, and the Considine's handsome single family home was divided into a multi-unit apartment building as Italian immigrants began to replace the Irish settlers of the previous generation.

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