It’s not terribly uncommon. Get a bunch of apartments together, and there’s enough money left over to decorate them in a royal fashion, a kingly style. Yes, truly, you can make these men’s homes… their castles.
Park Castle Apartments – 2416-2458 W. Greenleaf Avenue, at Indian Boundary Park, West Ridge. 1925, architect Jens J. Jensen; developers Gubbins, McDonnell and Blietz. The Park Castle, along with the neighboring Park Gables, is famed for its elaborate design and its wonderfully designed swimming pool.
Manor House apartments – 1021 Bryn Mawr Avenue, 1907 – architect John E.O Pidemore
2548 -2458 W. Fitch at Rockwell – just northwest of Indian Boundary Park, West Ridge.
Castellated architecture has its roots in the Gothic Revival and its Romantic views of the middle ages. In the eclectic 1920s, when a tidal wave of revival styles swept across America, a variety of castellated styles were used on large apartment buildings around Chicagoland. The implications of luxurious living – worthy of a monarch – would make a powerful advertising statement for the developers trying to fill their newly constructed buildings, as well as pleasing neighbors concerned about the aesthetics of a large new building in their neighborhood.
The most common castle architectural elements include massive turrets with small “arrow slit” windows, rough limestone bases, and crenelated rooflines. Of course, the need to supply the basics of a modern home, such as windows, mean that the castle motif can only run so far. On most examples, it is combined with a Tudor Revival style, which uses faux half-timbering for some surfaces for a more domestic effect which also happens to be more amenable to larger windows.
The castle craze was part of the period revival craze of the 1920s, when practically every style associated with pre-industrial society came into vogue.
901-927 Wesley Avenue, Oak Park, IL – the Paulina Mansions Apartments. 1926 – with particularly strong Tudor Revival components – along with a cloister screen across the courtyard entrance.
5700-5702 N. Kimball Avenue, Chicago – 1929 – billed as “Old English towers” with features including “canvased walls” and rollaway beds.
5651-5659 N. Spaulding at Hollywood, 1929, architect R.H. Johnson, builders Magnuson Brothers (Tribune July 21, 1929) – a particularly fine example, with ample detailing and architecturally decorated lobbies.
Church View Apartments – 1450-56 Oak Avenue / 1101-11 Lake Street, Evanston – 1926, architect Samuel N. Crowen – Crowen was notable as the designer of Michigan Avenue’s Willoughby Tower and the Biograph Theater on Lincoln Avenue.
Cable & Spitz – the combined firm of Max Lowell Cable and Alexander H. Spitz, both 1916 graduates of the Armour Institute – had a successful practice in the pre-Depression era, turning out a number of castellated Tudor Revival buildings.
5711-5717 N. Kimball Avenue, Chicago – architects Cable & Spitz
Castle elements could even be used on the classic Chicago 3-flat plan, as with these two apartment buildings which have a giant tower form as a bay window occupying most of the front facade. Other castle elements include the crenelated roofline of the tower; also of note is the sloping stone facade over the entryway – an element common on the English Cottage revival houses popular around the same time.
The buildings above, with only one exception, went up in the late 1920s. The Great Depression, of course, put the kibosh on any further such flights of fancy. By the time construction resumed in the 1950s, both style and economics demanded the simplicity of Modernism. Castle apartments were a quaint curiosity – a last hoorah for historicist revivalism.