Chicago’s Folk Art Walls

Catalpa Flats

If you walk around Chicago long enough you’ll eventually come across something like this.  It’s the Catalpa Flats (1516 North Sedgwick Street) in Old Town, where the owner has augmented its walls with bits and baubles and turned it into a piece of folk art.

I’ve seen similar ones on North Dearborn in the Near North neighborhood, and along a street I don’t remember in Lincoln Park. Many are embedded with sea shells, fancy dress ball masks, grotesques, and ornamental busts.  Catalpa’s are a little modest — a few pieces of terra cotta and a metal gate.

What possesses someone to go from white picket to black iron to masonry monstrosity is lost on me.  But good for them for putting in an effort to beautify their little corner of the city.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

Share This Post On