839 W Hutchinson
ABOUT THE ARCHITECT
Known for blending more traditional architecture and design elements with the English Arts and Crafts and Vienna Secession styles, George W. Maher spent the early days of his career as an apprentice, working alongside other burgeoning architects at the time, Frank Lloyd Wright and George Grant Elmslie. Believing that a building should pay homage to its surroundings, Maher, Wright, and Elmslie all favored the use of bold horizontal lines, handcrafted components, and open floor plans – features that have since become known as defining characteristics of Prairie-style architecture, and elements that are evident in 839 West Hutchinson Street.
While Maher worked in a variety of styles, he is most famously known for his contributions to the Prairie School style of architecture – the first distinctly American architectural style. As a key figure of the movement during the early 20th century, Maher’s design philosophy was centered around a concept he developed called Motif-Rhythm theory. In an attempt to create a cohesive, harmonious living space, this theory focused on utilizing a single theme, and carrying it throughout a build – inside and out. To unify the exterior of a building with the interior design, Maher would famously incorporate a few select motifs, like local flora or a geometric shape, into lighting fixtures, woodwork, stained glass, and even furniture.
ABOUT THE HOME
Designed in 1909 by the famed George W. Maher for Mrs. Grace Brackebush, this extraordinary estate is one of several designed by the architect in the area and is one of the homes that helped turn Hutchinson Street into the Landmark District it is today. Set on an oversized corner lot spanning nearly six standard city lots, the location for this imposing estate was originally selected in a private enclave offering affluent Chicagoans privacy while maintaining direct access to the Chicago central business district. To this day the many homeowners choose this exclusive neighborhood for the same reason.
The exterior of this five-bedroom home may seem unassuming but Maher’s masterful design is evident in every detail. As a sublime example of Prairie Style architecture, this home showcases his unique style and blend of architectural elements. Many beloved characteristics of the Prairie Style are found throughout, most notably strong horizontal lines, beautiful natural materials, and countless large windows.
Over the years this stunning estate has been updated with all the modern conveniences we’ve come to love today, yet still maintains the elegant charm and grace that George W. Maher masterfully designed all those years ago.
HUTCHINSON STREET LANDMARK DISTRICT
Situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, the tree-lined Buena Park neighborhood is a true hidden gem. Originally settled by German and Swedish farmers in the 1860’s, Buena Park has since transformed into a highly sought-after residential haven. Large lot sizes and stately homes give this area a more suburban feel paired with easy access to the Loop down Lake Shore Drive.
The pièce de resistance of this neighborhood is without a doubt the renowned Hutchinson Street Historic District, originally known as Kenesaw Terrace. This subdivision originally lay outside of the city limits in an unincorporated area known as Lakeview which was annexed by the city of Chicago in 1889. In the ensuing years, the Waller family, original landowners, sold the lakefront properties at a premium to wealthy buyers.
Home to one of the best collections of Prairie-Style residences in the city, this area is a treat for any architecture fan. While spanning only two blocks, this district provides a unique insight into the shifts that occurred in Chicago architecture between the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. In addition to its beautiful Prairie-style homes, this district is also home to more traditional styles, including popular Victorian architectural styles such as Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne, and prominent Neoclassical styles.
Thanks to its convenient location within just a short distance to the Loop, residents of this ideally situated neighborhood can quickly reach downtown via Lake Shore Drive with access ramps at both Montrose Avenue and Irving Park Road along with a number of bus and CTA lines. As for cyclists, being just steps from the Lakefront Trail is a dream.