In 1871, fire swept through Chicago, ravaging a huge swath of the city from 18th Street to Fullerton Avenue. In its ashes, citizens immediately began the process of building the city taller and more stately.
In 1872, one of those citizens built a cottage of his own at 1241 N. State Street. Like most of the cottages popping up at the time, it was brick rather than combustible wood, suited to the narrow lots, economical—good for a worker and his family.
Within a decade or so that worker had new neighbors: distinguished families like Potter, Goodman, and Lincoln, all living in mansions. Today, Gold Coast is chic, bustling, populated, and well-developed.
That worker's cottage is the last of its kind, nestled among larger multi-unit buildings that are almost literally squeezing the cottage between them. The economy of the neighborhood is almost like a slow tectonic force acting on a grain of sand.
DNAInfo recently reported that this cottage has just been sold to a developer with plans to demolish the home and build something more lucrative in its place.
I love a free market. I don't begrudge the seller or the developer. There's an opportunity to add value to a property that had been so neglected, its exterior was crumbling and its kitchen lacked appliances. No one was showing it much love—that is, until its sale made the news.
On the other hand, I love that this home is a slice of the city's history. It has cultural value to anyone who loves and appreciates that history. More than an artifact, though, the home stands for the long-forgotten people who passed through. It's a thing that holds tight to the past and asks you to remember, despite the weather and the years.
If you want to support the preservation of this home and others like it, the organization Preservation Chicago takes the lead on issues like this. I'm not affiliated with them.
DIGITAL IMAGE: The sketch below is available for free in a downloadable high-resolution 8.5" x 11" pdf.
PRINT: Or if you'd prefer, we can send you a signed print on high-quality, heavy stock paper. That's available for purchase here for $16. I also do custom home and building portraits. For more like this home, check out this gallery of home drawings.