Who doesn’t love a big, old house this time of year? All gussied up for Halloween, it makes you feel all Great Pumpkin inside. There’s a great old house in Edgewater that’s on its way to becoming a landmark.
6106 North Kenmore Avenue goes by the name Perkins-Nordine House. It was designed by Allen Pond and Irving Pond, who together made ripples in architecture circles as Pond and Pond. It’s the last grand home in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, which was a leafy suburb when this home was built from 1902 to 1903.
The “Perkins” part of the name comes from Herbert Farrington Perkins, for whom this house was built. As far as we can tell, he seems to be just another wage ape like you and me, except that he could afford a single-family house in Edgewater.
The “Nordine” part is for Ken Nordine, who lived in the home for almost 70 years. You may not know his name, but you know his pipes. Ken Nordine had a voice as deep as an underground beatnik poetry jam, and as rich as James Bond’s dry cleaner. Think halfway between Bill Kurtis and Barry White, but with more cigarette smoke and less electric sex.
Mr. Nordine had his own radio program for 40 years, and released more than a dozen “word jazz” albums, including one called “Word Jazz.” He’s been heard in commercials, movies, TV shows, radio plays, and Sesame Street. If you can’t place him, listen to this, and your little grey cells should spark to life.
Nordine died last year. You can read the Tribune’s obituary here.
In addition to being the former home studio of the voice of God, the Perkins-Nordine House is also architecturally outstanding. It is Arts and Crafts in overall style, but also includes elements of Queen Anne and American Colonial styles.
Its architects were no slouches, either. Mr. Pond and Mr. Pond were part of the early 20th century social reform movement, designing settlement houses around the city, and institutional structures across the Midwest. You may know them for the former City Club of Chicago building at 315 South Plymouth in The Loop, or the Gads Hill Center at 1919 West Cullerton Street in Pilsen.
As people move out of Chicago’s downtown in search of more legroom for fewer greenbacks, neighborhoods like Edgewater have seen a rash of old buildings torn down or renovated beyond recognition. Last week, the city’s Landmarks commission recommended this building be landmarked to keep at least this corner of Edgewater out of the crosshairs.