Sunday, March 1, 2015

Walter G. Coolidge House
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Walter G. Coolidge House (1884) /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1884 Walter Coolidge built a large single family home on a large corner lot in the Village of Hyde Park. The suburban community shared a border with the City of Chicago at 39th Street - today's Pershing Road - and extended south to what we now call 138th Street.  Lake Michigan was the village's eastern cut-off point, while State Street lined it's western edge. The "village" covered as much ground area as the city it bordered. But unlike Chicago, Hyde Park, and the cluster of homes in an area called Kenwood, bore little resemblance to the tightly-packed, over-crowded, hustling and bustling city to the north. Hyde Park had quiet tree-lined streets with large residential lots and nice big suburban style houses where you could sit out on your wrap around porch and listen to the birds chirping.

  [Walter G. Coolidge House, 4752 S. Kimbark Avenue, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Harvard educated engineer and bridge builder Walter Griggs Coolidge had come to Chicago in the mid-1860s and went to work for the Chicago Rock Island & Pacific Railroad. He then took a job with the American Bridge Company, and in 1882 incorporated the Steel-Wheel Company of Chicago with partners Malcolm McDonnell senior and junior, and $50,000 in capital. When he built his Queen Anne style house in Hyde Park in 1884, Walter's Kenwood neighborhood was really beginning to catch on with successful, upper-middle-class businessmen looking for a more refined living situation. Paul Cornell had come to the area in the 1850s, bought 300 acres of land, got the Illinois Central Railroad to build a train station not far from his house, and put Hyde Park on the map. The next 30 years were slow going, but as Chicago increased in size and prominence, so did Cornell's pastoral community.

  [Walter G. Coolidge House, Hyde Park - Kenwood National Historic District; Kenwood Historic District,  Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1888 Coolidge became the president of the Chicago Copper Refining Company, and while Walter whiled away the hours refining metals and selling chunks of his real estate investments, Georgette Coolidge painted. She exhibited for the first time in 1897 at the Art Institute's Annual Exhibition of Chicago Artists, returned again in 1909, and was included in the museum's Annual Exhibition of Watercolors, Pastels and Miniatures in 1900 and 1911. She showed in New York, and was listed in the American Art Directory. After Walter's death, and 40 years in her Kenwood villa, Georgette moved to Lyndon, Vermont where she continued to paint until her death in 1929 at age 79.

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