Although many people, especially in America, still think of row homes as simple, two-story, brick homes with little personality —Fooey! — I’ve discovered an amazing amount of diversity. Especially in the early years of row house architecture in America, there are a lot of beautiful styles represented.
Nestled in on lush landscaped grounds in Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois, are the McCormick Row Houses. Built between 1882 and 1889, they were planned to be a source of rental income for the McCormick Theological Seminary, which was located in the same area. The houses are built around a small, central park and private streets, between Fullerton Avenue, Belden Avenue, Chalmers Place, and Freemont Street. They’re located within the grounds of DePaul University but their occupancy is independent of the school.
The McCormick Row Houses are true row homes, having been developed and built in continuous rows at the same time. Architects Colton and Sons chose a refined Queen Anne style with details like gables, dormers and ornamental brickwork. The facade of the homes have uniform window and door placements, however, the rooflines vary from pointed to curved. Although the design is easily identified as Queen Anne, the treatment is simplified and lacks much of the more ornate detailing of more typical homes in the style.
The Queen Anne Design
Typically the qualities of a house that make it a Queen Anne are spindles gingerbread detailing, decorative brickwork, domed towers, asymmetrical arrangement, and wrap-around porches. Although these row houses don’t have many of these attributes, as they are really only suited to individual homes, they still have a visual similarity to many urban interpretations of this style.
Queen Anne, for whom this style is named, was queen of England from 1702 through 1714. It’s a bit of a misnomer as this style came quite a bit after her reign. In America, art and architecture from this period is referred to as William and Mary, Colonial or Federal. It’s been suggested that during the late Victorian period, someone had mistaken furniture to be of the original Queen Anne’s time, and although the reference was corrected, the name stuck. The Queen Anne architectural period followed the Second-Empire period and was at it’s height between 1880 and 1890.
It’s considered to be highly connected to the industrial age as many of the ornate details were easily obtained due to machine construction and made the style very assessible. The style was influenced by the work of Richard Norman Shaw, an architect from Britain.
McCormick Row House District/Nation Master Encyclopedia – http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/McCormick-Row-House-District
McCormick Row House District/Essential Architecture – http://www.essential-architecture.com/A-AMERICA-N/USA/CHICAGO/CHIC-NE/CHIC-NE-031.htm
Anne of Great Britain/Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_of_Great_Britain