Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Speculative Home at Edgewater for J. L. Cochran

From 1886 to 1890, J. L. Silsbee was engaged by real estate developer, John Lewis Cochran, to design homes and other community structures for his Edgewater development.  Silsbee's first structures, all in the shingle style, set the tone for development in the community as well as a high expectation for quality designed and constructed homes for the communities surrounding the city of Chicago.  By the end of his tenure with Cochran, Silsbee had designed over 20 buildings for the community, including his own home that once stood on Hollywood Avenue.        

In 1890, local newspapers and architectural journals announced that Cochran was building two new homes and a train station to Silsbee's designs.  In 2006, local historian LeRoy Blommaert alerted me that he had located one of these homes and that it would soon be slated for demolition.  An account of his research and our visit to the home can be read on the Edgewater Historical Society website see their Summer 2006 issue for the article

The home had a brick first story and a second story clad in either stucco or shingles.  The photos depict a modern stucco application.  The structure had several additions over the years.  The most notable was a large mid-century three-story structure that obscured the entire front of the home.  The Edgewater homes designed by Silsbee, with modern conveniences and complex architectural detailing, were the finest shingle style structures to grace the Chicago streets.  Draftsmen in his office that worked on these homes included future Oak Park architects Henry Fiddelke and Frank Lloyd Wright.

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