A group of unassuming dark brick townhomes in the Park West neighborhood are in line to become the city’s next landmarks.
The diminutive delegation from 2700 to 2710 North Lakeview Avenue is designated the Lakeview Avenue Row House District, and includes four actual homes and two ghost homes erected between 1915 and 1917. They were designed by familiar Chicago name David Adler, and slightly less familiar Chicago name Henry Corwith Dangler.
The homes were designed by the two famous architects for their friends, who just happened to be the core of a special circle of Chicago’s elite art community — Photographers, painters, and their patrons. There were actually supposed to be six homes in total, but the two northernmost plots were never filled and ended up part of the Elks Memorial next door. That’s why 2710 has a blank north wall, even though in every other respect it has an appropriately adorned Georgian facade.
- 2700 — Built for Mrs. Emily M. Ryerson, an artist better known for being a survivor of the Titanic disaster. But her Wikipedia entry is enough to make any passport stamp collector envious.
- 2704 — Built for Abram Poole, another world traveler to such places as Munich, Paris, and Glencoe. His sketches of naked people are part of the Art Institute of Chicago’s collection.
- 2708 — Built for Henry Dangler, himself
- 2710 — Built for Ambrose C. Cramer, Dangler’s cousin who was a draftsman in Dangler’s firm until his cousin died, whereupon he decided to become an architect
- 2712 — Planned for muralist Frederick C. Bartlett, whose work not only once adorned the walls of the Art Institute, but in the 1980’s, the Smithsonian Institution put together an exhibition of his work.
- 2718 — Planned for George F. Porter, who although he was a painter and artist, made his mark as a patron of the arts thanks to also being a minor railroad magnate. He killed himself the day before he was supposed to leave on one of those then-trendy Grand Circle tours of Europe. As noted by the Chicago Tribune in a February 24, 1927 front page, above-the-fold article: “[Porter], almost constantly ill and a sufferer from melancholia, yesterday morning reached what he called ‘the inevitable conclusion of a twisted life’ and killed himself in his apartment at 20 East Cedar Street.” It said that he had “acute nervous depression” because of a childhood neck injury.
The city’s Landmarks Commission has already approved the designation for the four homes. According to 43rd Ward Alderman Michelle Smith, the neighborhood is solidly in favor of the move, even gathering a petition with more than 500 signatures supporting the landmark designation.