Early Modern / Midcentury Moderne apartments

Early modernism for the masses took the form of sleek brick boxes, with windows at the corners and raised bands of brick for ornament.

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6014-6024 N. California, 1948. The Tribune indicates that this was the George Eisenberg Unit, a “child treatment center” for foster children run by the Jewish Children’s Bureau. In later years, the building became an apartment complex. By 2007, when I shot these photos, it was tired, run down and vacant.

With the land slated for a condo product, the building was demolished around 2008. The condos (a sad historicist pastiche compared to this elegantly simple building) never happened, of course.

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Granville Gardens, West Ridge – more info here.

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Wolcott Gardens – 4901-4959 N. Wolcott Avenue, 1939, architects Michaelsen & Rognstad. This project started as soon as Granville Gardens finished. Like that project, Wolcott Gardens was backed by Federal government loan guarantees.

If you’ve ever ridden Metra’s Union Pacific North line, you’ve seen the backsides of this complex, which sprawls for an impressive length near the Ravenswood stop.

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The courtyards are fenced off, sadly. The buildings are arranged to form a giant U-shape running along the back of the block, with two smaller U-shapes nestled within it – an ingenious layout that takes advantage of the long, narrow, and rectangular site plan.

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301-11 Custer, Evanston – a near-total mystery! I can’t find it in the city/county database. A classified ad announces the building’s opening, with units ready for occupancy in March 1948, also naming the building as the “Custer-Mulford Apartments”, at 301 Custer, and operated by Draper and Kramer, Inc.

One other thing about Moderne? It looks GREAT at night.
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7375-83 N. Winchester – the Pottawattomie Park Apartments

Four sets of courtyard apartments, in two pairs, sit on the 7600 block of Winchester in Rogers Park. They’re all the same design, though the pair on the west side of the street has been badly remangled with super low-budget tack-on metal balconies.

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7328-36 N. Winchester

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7314-22 N. Winchester – ugh!! Those doors!

On the east side of Winchester, however, the other pair remains gloriously intact, with its thin metal-framed windows still in place.

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7363-71 N. Winchester – the Pottawattomie Park Apartments

At the street, the complex features beautiful brickwork, half-turned stacks and raised bands that beautifully complement the corner windows.

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The whole group seems to have gone up in 1953, though the Chicago CityNews site is pretty confused, listing one as dating to 1898 (!!) and listing seemingly outdated addresses for the east-side buildings. Plans for the buildings were announced in the Tribune in 1949; they were part of a large group of apartments privately constructed with FHA loans.

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6 thoughts on “Early Modern / Midcentury Moderne apartments

  1. As a student of 20th Century architecture I love these takes on International Style buildings, Especially the scale of the the development. No too large and over bearing. They didn't satuarate the area with hundreds of these delicately but industrially strong designs. I agree it is a scar to install those hideous balconies. Balconies in themselves are not wrong, only you can tell a contractor or builder must have come up with that plan, certainly wasn't anyone who had an affinity to the subtly of the design of the buildings. I recall townhomes my father built in the 50's-60's with the scale on par with the surrounding neighborhood even though they stood in the foreground of slab multi storied towers in the rear. Parkway Gardens on Chicago's southside, 63rd? KingDrive.

  2. I have always loved architecture though never studied it formally. Many of my childhood weekends were spent driving around Chicago with my Dad who worked for a builder in Chicago during the late 1950's-1970's. Blueprints and housing brochures we a staple in my home. As I got older, riding my bike around Evanston and looking at the beautiful old homes was a favorite pastime. Though I no longer live in Chicago, the architecture and background stories is still a favorite pass time.

  3. Wow, there is some really great architecture here! I have always enjoyed observing architecture, and while I've never been to Chicago, I always hear what a great city it is when it comes to design.Debra, if you ever get a chance, I would recommend that you check out the luxury apartments in Boston. Of course it's an older style, but I think every architecture ""connoisseur"" needs to tour this city at least once.

  4. The building at 6014-6024 N. California was not an apartment complex at all at any point (despite its appearance). Yes it was the home of Eisenberg group home for boys, through the Jewish Children's Bureau, and later was converted to a school for children with behavior problems emotional difficulties in the late 70s, early 80s through(JCB)until its closing in 2007. They moved to a new location at 3145 West Pratt Boulevard, Chicago. I was a student at the the school from 91-95. Please do your research before posting.

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