Chicago has long been known for its spectacular and innovative architecture. From the skeletal framework designed by Holabird & Roche that enabled buildings to rise to new heights, to the flowing concrete forms of Bertrand Goldberg, to the pared down elegance of Mies van der Rohe – Chicago stands apart.
Yet this excellence in architecture is not restricted to the city center; it can be found in the simplicity of a workingman’s cottage, the interplay of light and shadow of a Queen Ann frame, or seen in the sweeping cantilevers conceived by Frank Lloyd Wright. And one neighborhood has them all.
Nested along the shores of Lake Michigan and surrounded by parks designed by Olmsted & Vaux are the historic communities of Hyde Park and Kenwood. Served by excellent schools, enhanced by University of Chicago, one of the world’s great learning institutions and located a mere ten-minute drive from downtown – these communities have undergone a renaissance.
Chicago’s Historic Hyde Park is the definitive book on the history of these neighborhoods, and their story is told through the development of the American home. Author Susan O’Connor Davis is the realtor who understands the depth of these communities and their housing stock.
A resident of Kenwood for fifteen years, the house the Davis’s constructed was the recipient of the American Institute of Architects Distinguished Building Honor Award. In addition to being keenly aware of the construction process, Susan is familiar with zoning and landmark issues. With a degree in Interior Design, she offers guidance on preparing structures and marketing properties in their best possible light.
In addition to her passion for history and writing, Susan serves on the Board of Governors for the Smart Museum of Art, is a member of the Arts Club of Chicago, the Beverly Golf Club, and a founding member of the not-for-profit Kenwood Improvement Association. She has chaired numerous fundraising events for the University of Chicago Lab Schools, the Hyde Park Art Center and the Smart Museum.
Hyde Park Legends
The ground level of the house at the southwest corner of 48th and Greenwood just always seemed too high. Not in the sense of the ridges that once ran diagonally across the landscape of Hyde Park, but specifically and oddly too high just in one place. The driveway at the back of the lot was cracked as the land shifted over time, and the garage had weeds growing from its gutters. That all changed last month as excavation began for a foundation for a shiny new garage. What came up with the backhoe was the lost history of one Kenwood family.
The huge pieces of limestone dredged up were the buried remnants of the house built for Charles Hosmer Morse, a 19th century industrialist. Morse began his career as a salesman in New York and moved up the ladder quickly. He came to Chicago to establish the first branch of an enterprise that became known as Fairbanks, Morse & Company.
Toni Preckwinkle | Cook County Board President
“Susan O’Connor Davis’s work draws well-deserved attention to Hyde Park-Kenwood’s beautiful buildings and details their history. These architectural gems are a lasting legacy for future generations.”
Dominic A. Pacyga | author of Chicago: A Biography
“Few city neighborhoods have been as studied as Chicago’s Hyde Park. Susan O’Connor Davis has created an extraordinary guide to a remarkable place. Chicago’s Historic Hyde Park is a compelling visual account that introduces the reader not only to a complex local history, but also to one grounded firmly in the larger currents of both architectural change and urban development. Davis’s account ranges from Paul Cornell’s early Hyde Park through the still controversial urban renewal era and right up to current preservation efforts. This meticulously researched, wonderfully illustrated, lovingly written, and well-documented book is an important contribution to the history of Chicago and urban America.”
Interview With The Author
4845 S Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60615
4845 S Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60615
Although Benjamin Marshall is best known as the architect of lavish hotels and luxurious apartments, he began his career as the designer of large single-family urban houses. His partnership with Horatio Wilson produced high-style residences for wealthy businessmen, most of which were located in the Kenwood neighborhood on the city's south side. The majestic buildings of the Columbian Exposition inspired Marshall to become an architect; he became partners with Wilson at the age of 21. Young and charismatic, Marshall was versatile working in a variety of styles, as exemplified by this grand Tudor estate designed for Elliott Phelps in 1902. Sheathed in brick and detailed in limestone, the 9,000 sq ft house is situated on a verdant lot that showcases its wide porch, bay windows, steep gables and elaborate chimneys, while allowing for a porte-cochere and side driveway that lead to a stylistically similar coach house. This historically significant home exhibits grand and elegant entertaining spaces on the main level with two levels of private family space above, all surrounded by gated verdant grounds covering more than a half-acre. The current owners spent 18 months restoring the house to its original magnificent appearance; in 2008 the house was the recipient of Chicago Commission on Landmark's Preservation Excellence Award. In addition to the stunning exterior aesthetic, the interiors were restored and all mechanical systems are now state-of-the-art. Wilson & Marshall's houses featured luxurious interiors filled with finishes of inlaid mahogany and classical plaster work, and these are found throughout this 6-bedroom, 5 and 1/2 bath residence. From the moment you enter 4845 South Ellis, it is apparent this is truly one of the most extraordinary homes in the Kenwood Landmark District. Double mahogany and leaded glass doors open from the massive arched porch, leading one through a mosaic tiled vestibule into a classically detailed reception area with a grand staircase and welcoming fireplace, one of six in the home. The floor plan is perfect for entertaining, as imposing pocket doors open to the grand living room, with its lavish original mahogany millwork and beamed ceiling. The dramatic dining room offers seating for a dozen guests, with views overlooking the well-manicured grounds. Other spaces for enjoyment on the main level include the billiard room with its charming window seats, leaded glass windows and massive fireplace, a light-filled enclosed porch, and a cozy den with an adjacent outdoor terrace. And the kitchen is a chef's dream come true, with pantry storage, wet bar, top of the line appliances and built-in seating area. The impressive stairway rises three stories, past a sunlit seating area on the landing to a spacious sitting room that connects the three oversized bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath and heated floors. The owners' suite encompasses the entire north side of the second level and features large windows with a view of the neighborhood, the warmth of a fireplace, two generous walk-in closets and a luxurious bath with soaking tub and separate steam shower. And the practical has not been overlooked; closets are ample and the two-room laundry area is conveniently located. The third level has an enormous family room, 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths. The lower is unfinished, but primed with heated concrete floors, plumbing for 2 baths, caterer's kitchen and bar - leaving an abundance of space for a future wine cellar, gymnasium or home theater. Amid the fruit trees, herb garden and lush lawns are seating areas and a half basketball court. Additionally the coach house provides heated parking for up to 6 cars, and offers a 4-bdrm 2-bath apartment perfect for use as an office. Marshall was one of the country's most successful architects, yet preferred to think of himself as an artist. This is a home for the ages, where you can write the next chapter of its extraordinary history.