Chicago has long been known for its spectacular and innovative architecture. From the skeletal framework designed by Holabird & Roche that enabled buildings to rise to new heights, to the flowing concrete forms of Bertrand Goldberg, to the pared down elegance of Mies van der Rohe – Chicago stands apart.
Yet this excellence in architecture is not restricted to the city center; it can be found in the simplicity of a workingman’s cottage, the interplay of light and shadow of a Queen Ann frame, or seen in the sweeping cantilevers conceived by Frank Lloyd Wright. And one neighborhood has them all.
Nested along the shores of Lake Michigan and surrounded by parks designed by Olmsted & Vaux are the historic communities of Hyde Park and Kenwood. Served by excellent schools, enhanced by University of Chicago, one of the world’s great learning institutions and located a mere ten-minute drive from downtown – these communities have undergone a renaissance.
Chicago’s Historic Hyde Park is the definitive book on the history of these neighborhoods, and their story is told through the development of the American home. Author Susan O’Connor Davis is the realtor who understands the depth of these communities and their housing stock.
A resident of Kenwood for fifteen years, the house the Davis’s constructed was the recipient of the American Institute of Architects Distinguished Building Honor Award. In addition to being keenly aware of the construction process, Susan is familiar with zoning and landmark issues. With a degree in Interior Design, she offers guidance on preparing structures and marketing properties in their best possible light.
In addition to her passion for history and writing, Susan serves on the Board of Governors for the Smart Museum of Art, is a member of the Arts Club of Chicago, the Beverly Golf Club, and a founding member of the not-for-profit Kenwood Improvement Association. She has chaired numerous fundraising events for the University of Chicago Lab Schools, the Hyde Park Art Center and the Smart Museum.
Hyde Park Legends
The ground level of the house at the southwest corner of 48th and Greenwood just always seemed too high. Not in the sense of the ridges that once ran diagonally across the landscape of Hyde Park, but specifically and oddly too high just in one place. The driveway at the back of the lot was cracked as the land shifted over time, and the garage had weeds growing from its gutters. That all changed last month as excavation began for a foundation for a shiny new garage. What came up with the backhoe was the lost history of one Kenwood family.
The huge pieces of limestone dredged up were the buried remnants of the house built for Charles Hosmer Morse, a 19th century industrialist. Morse began his career as a salesman in New York and moved up the ladder quickly. He came to Chicago to establish the first branch of an enterprise that became known as Fairbanks, Morse & Company.
Toni Preckwinkle | Cook County Board President
“Susan O’Connor Davis’s work draws well-deserved attention to Hyde Park-Kenwood’s beautiful buildings and details their history. These architectural gems are a lasting legacy for future generations.”
Dominic A. Pacyga | author of Chicago: A Biography
“Few city neighborhoods have been as studied as Chicago’s Hyde Park. Susan O’Connor Davis has created an extraordinary guide to a remarkable place. Chicago’s Historic Hyde Park is a compelling visual account that introduces the reader not only to a complex local history, but also to one grounded firmly in the larger currents of both architectural change and urban development. Davis’s account ranges from Paul Cornell’s early Hyde Park through the still controversial urban renewal era and right up to current preservation efforts. This meticulously researched, wonderfully illustrated, lovingly written, and well-documented book is an important contribution to the history of Chicago and urban America.”
Interview With The Author
4938 S Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60615
4938 S Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60615
Built by the prominent Chicago architects Horatio Wilson and Oliver Marble in 1891, this handsome three-story limestone row house is a fine example of the architecture for which the historic South Kenwood Landmark District is known. What unites the exterior and interior are remarkably intact details - from concave shell detailing of the facade, to the intricate mosaic floor of the entry, to dramatic carved staircase rising three stories. The main level has been meticulously restored and features a double parlor and formal dining room with new hardwood floors, while the kitchen has all of the modern conveniences. On the upper two levels are 5 bedrooms with 3 full baths, and a large laundry. The finished lower level adds 1,300 sq ft with an in-law suite, w/ full bath, kitchenette, wine storage, media room and play area. A brick patio and garage are accessed through a sky-lit sunroom. In move-in condition, this beautiful family home awaits the next chapter of its amazing history.