LOSS: Historic Spencer Kimbell Home Demolished

The 1880s Spencer Kimbell House, an early frame building at 2616 N. Kimball was built by one of the pioneers of Logan Square. Spencer Kimbell (1842-1907), was the son of Martin Kimbell (1812-1895), the “Father of Logan Square,” an early pioneer and settler of Northwest Chicago/Town of Jefferson, and builder of Northwest Plank Road, now known as Milwaukee Avenue. Additionally, Spencer Kimbell was a Civil War Lieutenant, marched with General Sherman to the Sea, and served at the Battle of Shiloh and the Battle of Atlanta.

The Spencer Kimbell House was almost “a twin” house to the Martin Kimbell Jr. House–his brother’s house, located a block to the south and built in about 1897 at 2544 North Kimball/Kimbell Avenue (pictured above in about 1900). Decades before annexation into Chicago, the old “Kimbell Farm” included a number Kimbell and Smalley-Kimbell Family Houses on this two block section of Kimball Avenue, named in honor of the family, despite the variance in the spelling of Kimbell/Kimball. These grand Queen Anne houses “on the prairie”, later to be developed into the Logan Square community, must have been quite a spectacular sight, prior to Wrightwood Avenue being extended and dividing the original Kimbell Farm’s parcels.

In decades past, the Spencer Kimbell house lost its wrap-around porch, the “witches hat” atop its corner bay and high rooflines, along with its original wood siding and a portion of its once expansive lands. In 1905, Spencer Kimbell commissioned architect C. Whitney Stevens, to design and construct a new brick mansion for his family at the southwest corner of Kimball and Wrightwood Avenues, which still stands today. This house is “orange-rated” in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey and Preservation Chicago has suggested this house and others nearby on the historic Kimbell Farm, be considered for Chicago Landmark Designation.

Preservation Chicago learned of the demolition permit on Thursday, December 27, 2018 and took immediate steps to contact a wide number of stakeholders including the Alderman, City of Chicago ’ historic Preservation Division, historic researchers and neighborhood groups. By the following morning, the wrecking crew had mobilized and the house was demolished by that evening. Ward Miler spoke to the owner who had decided to demolish to home to decrease the taxes on the property.

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