Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lincoln Park Comfort Station

I have always found it ironic that some of Silsbee's smallest and seemingly least significant works have become the ones that received the most attention.  Perhaps it is because the more significant buildings have succumbed to the wrecking ball or maybe it says something about the values created by architectural historians.
One of these modest gems is a cottage he designed for Lincoln Park.  It was commissioned in 1888 and served as toilet facilities for the park.  An initial rendering of the project that appeared in the local construction journal, the Building Budget, was prepared by Prairie School architect George Maher.   
The structure is exquisitely detailed with pressed brick, rounded at the corners, large boulders, and flared hipped roof.  The materials and expression of the structure have the same refined rustic articulation that can be found in homes that Silsbee's office was designing in the Buena Park and Edgewater suburbs of Chicago.  It also set the tone for other park structures by Silsbee as the materials and entry configuration were echoed in his Lincoln Park Conservatory as well as the park offices located at the rear of the Conservatory.  
The structure is a Chicago Landmark, possibly the greatest distinction and protection given to any of Silsbee's structures anywhere.  It was lovingly restored two years ago and is currently used as a volunteer coordinator's office for the park's gardens.   

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