The Preliminary Landmark designation of a collection of 19 Queen Anne style “worker’s cottages” built primarily in 1884 was approved on March 7, 2019 by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. Located on the Near West Side in Tri-Taylor, most of the homes are on the 1000 block of South Claremont. This district was included in the National Register in 1983. The Chicago Historic Resources Survey, published in 1996, identified the area as a potential Chicago Landmark District. The protections of a Preliminary Landmark designation are important as the cottage at 1042 S. Oakley Boulevard was demolished in 2018.
“In their high level of design, craftsmanship, and physical integrity, this is a rare surviving development of Queen Anne style ‘worker’s cottages.’ The worker’s cottage was a common building type in the context of Chicago working- and middle-class neighborhoods that were developed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, the cottages in this district are distinctive for their design and detailing. No two cottages in the district are identical. Each one is clad with eclectic ornamentation and exterior building materials a little differently than the last, but the striking visual appeal of the block is in its uniformity. The high gabled roofs, overhanging eaves with turned wood brackets beneath, oriel windows and carved stone trim produce a higher level of visual character than what is typically found in worker’s cottages.” (Claremont Cottage District, Preliminary Landmark Report, March 2019)
The district also stands out as a largely intact speculative development, built as an ensemble 125 years ago, that has managed to survive the ravages of time, economic downturns, and extensive urban renewal projects nearby. Named the “Claremont Cottages” by prolific real estate developers Turner & Bond, these buildings reflect the appreciation that Victorian-era Chicagoans had for highly decorative, finely crafted houses, even ones of modest scale, as well as the importance of small-scale residential buildings to the history of Chicago.” The architecture is attributed to Cicero Hine. (Claremont Cottage District, Preliminary Landmark Report, March 2019)
“These homes are amazing assets of Chicago’s Near West Side,” said Ward Miller. “In a neighborhood that’s weathered many changes, the Claremont Cottages district has remained a special place that evokes the sense of a small village of somewhere other than Chicago; like you’re in another country. More of the cottages used to populate the nearby streets of Heath and Oakley avenues but have been decimated over time.” (Rice, Block Club Chicago, 3/13/19)
According to Matt Crawford, architectural historian at the City of Chicago, Landmarks Division, “Many of the neighbors who lived on the block assumed their homes were already within a designated Chicago Landmark District and were surprised to discover that wasn’t the case. That discovery caused neighbors on the block to form a grassroots effort to learn more about their properties and campaign for their preservation.” (Rice, Block Club Chicago, 3/13/19)
“We see a lot of folks complaining about these kinds of things but not doing anything,” said committee member Ernest Wong. “I really want to commend these neighbors.” (Rice, Block Club Chicago, 3/13/19)
Preservation Chicago testified in support of the District. This District is the result of many years of preservation advocacy by Tri-Taylor Neighborhood Association with support from a $1,500 Landmarks Illinois Preservation Heritage Fund grant and City of Chicago historic preservation staff.
Preliminary Landmark Report, March 2019, Claremont Cottage District, 1000-Block of S. Claremont Avenue, Between Taylor and Grenshaw Streets
Save These 130-Year-Old, Queen Anne-Style Worker Cottages Near Taylor Street, Landmarks Group Urges; The Claremont Cottages evoke the sense of a “small village of somewhere other than Chicago; like you’re in another country,” one preservation leader said., Linze Rice, Block Club Chicago, 3/13/19
OLD BUILDINGS, NEW TRICKS: WORKMAN’S COTTAGES ON CLAREMONT AND HEATH AVENUES, Elizabeth Blasius, Blaservations.com, 11/17/14