If you are a fan of 1950s and 1960s design, it is well worth your time to park your car on Peterson, just west of Western Avenue, and take a long walk west. You’ll find a variety of architectural gems, both quiet and prominent. Here are some of my favorites:
2440 W. Peterson Avenue
2440 is a plain brown brick building with a wide open east-facing glass facade. Its primary point of interest is the startburst-shaped entry canopy which shelters much of the courtyard and intersects the front facade. The result is a cozy and intimate space – an ideal setting for the rock garden that currently inhabits it.
2518 W. Peterson Ave
The winning component on this tiny office building is the concrete screen that shields most of the front windows. This lacy double layer of thin blocks filters light and views, allowing privacy while maintaining connection to the outdoors.
Best guess for date of construction is 1965, the only time it pops up in the <i>Tribune</i> archives.
2600 W. Peterson / 2606 Peterson – The Cardamil Building
At first glance, it’s a fairly stock scheme, a 1961 building with blue and cream bricks accented by a random cobblestone wall section at the lobby. Can lights in the overhang illuminate the walls at night.
Then you move down the street and realize that this extra bonus building is attached to it.
2606 W. Peterson is (or was) home to the architecture firm of Simon & Co. Generous windows are screened by heavy curtains, and the upper walls are given interest and volume by the addition of a screen of metal hoops.
Early tenants in the main building at 2600 Peterson included F.C. Power, an appliance distributor, in 1961; Wilbur-Ellis Co, beverage distributors, in 1962; by 1965 it was home to Engler, Schwechter & Associates, a legal or accounting firm.
2722-26 W. Peterson – Fairfield-Peterson Cosmetic Dental Center
Opened circa 1961, this building shares a similar scheme to 2440 Peterson – a rather plain brick box, open on one side, facing a courtyard sheltered by an elaborate canopy. In this case, rectangular steel tubes old up a thin covering. The fence seems like a later addition, as the gate forces one to enter from the Fairfield side rather than the more logical axial approach from Peterson. This building was home to a variety of offices, but over time – like many others nearby – it has settled into a suite of dental practices
The dark bricks are a thin facade – on the west face, a few of them are peeling away, showing that they are less than an inch thick.
3414 W. Peterson Avenue – 3414 Professional Building
3414 Peterson is another suite of dental offices. Past inhabitants have included medical practices. The building is a mini-grab bag of stock 1960s design elements – the folded plate roof that shelters both the exterior porch and part of the interior lobby; hanging globe lamps; brown brick arranged in a dimensional pattern; and a wall of rough stone.
There is precious little information available about any of these buildings – the names of their architects have not found their way online – but together they exemplify the commercial exuberance of the Mad Men era.