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Great Houses of Chicago, 1871-1921


Susan Benjamin and Stuart Cohen
9 x 12 inches, 334 pages
Nearly 350 duotone photographs, drawings, and floor plans
Cloth, dust jacket $75
ISBN: 978-0-926464-39-8
MARCH 2008

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Dark, raw power built Chicago into an authentic American city. Beginning in the 1870s, farmers, hog swains, and gambler's Europeans, New Englanders, southerners, and nearby midwesterners migrated to the shores of Lake Michigan. From a world of shanty towns and smoke-stacked factories, ambitious men built vast commercial and industrial enterprises that changed the way Americans shop, eat, and think. Adventurous, civic-minded, and newly rich, Chicago's grandees boldly hired the most progressive architects and savviest art and antiques dealers to design and furnish private houses that ultimately defined the city as a center of American capitalism, culture, and architecture.

Along Prairie Avenue, majestic Lake Shore Drive, and Astor Street, the Armours, McCormicks, Pullmans, and Ryersons immortalized their place among Chicago's elite with lavish palaces designed by David Adler, Daniel Burnham, Howard Van Doren Shaw, and Frank Lloyd Wright, in styles that ranged from detailed Beaux-Arts eclectic to International Modern.

Great Houses of Chicago, 1871-1921 is the first authoritative study of Chicago's grand city houses. Thirty four in-depth profiles, illustrated with restored archival photographs and floor plans, portray a private world of Midwestern splendor. This masterful volume includes biographical sketches of leading Chicago architects, a comprehensive bibliography, and a portfolio of 40 additional, rarely-seen residences.



SUSAN BENJAMIN is an architectural historian with a career that spans over 30 years in a broad variety of preservation activities. Ms. Benjamin practices as Benjamin Historic Certifications, LLC, the firm that specializes in preparing landmark nominations and in acquiring tax benefits for homeowners and developers who rehabilitate their landmark properties. Ms. Benjamin frequently gives lectures and tours on Chicago and the North Shore architecture and landscapes, makes television appearances and has written two books and several articles on North Shore Architecture.Susan Benjamin is a co-author, with STUART COHEN,of North Shore Chicago: Houses of the Lakefront Suburbs, 1890-1940 (2004). She is a resident of Highland Park, Illinois.


STUART COHEN is a practicing architect and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. He is professor of architecture emeritus at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Stuart is the author of three books and numerous articles on architecture. His firm Cohen and Hacker Architects specializes in residential architecture and the restoration and renovation of historic houses The architectural work of his firm is now the subject of a new monograph, Transforming the Traditional. The Work of Cohen & Hacker Architects (Images Publishing, 2009). At the April 2010 meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians, Cohen is being honored by the SAH with an award for his contributions to the architectural culture of Chicago.


"...illuminating new book...The heart of the book consists of in-depth profiles of the 34 houses, which are portrayed with drawings, restored archival photographs, floor plans and text. The profiles are sharply drawn and richly detailed. Together, they reveal broad stylistic shifts, from the dark, cluttered, European-influenced houses of the 1870s, to the bright, open Prairie Style houses at the turn of the century, to the graceful, tradition-minded eclecticism of the Teens and '20s as rendered by such talents as Howard Van Doren Shaw." Chicago Tribune

"This delicious feast of a book is the fifth in the admirable Acanthus Press series on urban domestic architecture in the U.S. The present book examines 34 Chicago houses in detail and appends a portfolio of single images of 40 or more. Of the whole group, 45 have been destroyed and only 12 are still private residences, so the emphasis is necessarily-and nostalgically on what once was. Just as informative and interesting as the images, the text tells us much about why the owners lived as they did."Interior Design

"Three dozen vintage mansions - including 28 landmarks - are examined in the book. The publication, loaded with hundreds of photographs, visits residences on such city streets as Astor, Prairie, Lake Shore Drive, Drexel, Lakeview, Greenwood and Woodlawn." Chicago Sun-Times


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