Wednesday, April 7, 2010

319 W Eugenie

Built in 1874, this lovely Italianate, like many of the homes in Old Town, is on the National Register of Historic Places.  It is located at 319 W. Eugenie, which is at the crux of the "T" intersection of Orleans and Eugenie.  "T" intersections of this type are common within Old Town.  Many of the streets simply do not obey the typical Chicago grid, they start stop, twist and turn in every which way.  This disobedience with the Chicago grid is a result of old Town surviving the great Chicago fire mostly intact.  At the time of the fire, Old Town was at the northern limits of the city of Chicago.  Prior to the fire, Chicago did not have a grid system, but took the opportunity, after an immense portion of the city had burned down, to institute a more logical pattern for its roads.

Old Town's jumbled roads are a hold over from the previous, less formal time.  This is fact is quite popular amongst Old Town residents for several reasons the foremost being that it gives them a simple, fun fact to bark at nearly all Old Town visitors who happen to be in earshot, or worse yet, happen to get lost on one of the local streets.

The twisting, winding roads also have the benefit of greatly limiting through traffic, as the roads simple do not go through the neighborhood uninterrupted. As a result, Old Town roads are rarely the fastest or most direct way to travel through the north side of the city.  This lack of through traffic enhances the calmer sides of the neighborhood and encourages a walking culture that is more than abundant in Old Town.

319 W Eugine possess several charming Italianate details, including decorative flattened arch frames over the windows and doors, lovely paired corbels and dentils at the roof eave.  Over the front entryway, a decorative stained glass window shows the houses address.  This window is a great detail, but it is worth noting it is not original to the building.  A little bit of Chicago history detective work will reveal the truth.

In 1909, the City of Chicago adopted a a street renumbering and renaming scheme, proposed by one Edward P. Brennan. This renumbering scheme changed the address of many, many Chicago properties, but had the effect of creating uniformity.  The historic numbering scheme was chaotic, random and unpredictable and the city benefited immensely from the changes.  For our specific property in question, the original address of 319 W Eugenie was 102 W Eugenie.  Clearly the window was added after the change, and at a minimum, more than 35 years after the home was built.

No comments:

Post a Comment