1880’s Historic Queen Anne Renovation Concept

Ed Twohey  on   Apr 06, 2020

The long-time owners of this early 1890’s Victorian era structure were seeking to sell, but they knew the property presented unique challenges that could deter prospective buyers.  Situated on a corner lot in an important historic district,  the building had non-conformities with respect to the zoning code.  The owners and realtor reached out to BBA Architects to open a dialogue with the city’s Landmarks Commission, do some research, and present solutions to entice potential buyers.

From the exterior view, it was clear that the building had been significantly altered, no longer displaying the charming features of its contemporary neighbors.  The front entry had been awkwardly reconfigured while the roof edges were oddly flush with the building facade.. 

Despite a 1980’s kitchen renovation, the interior had maintained much of its original character, however all of the interior finishes were worn out.  It was clear that the interior would require a full gut renovation with all new services and finishes. 

Several historic archives were searched, but unfortunately no old photographs of the facade were found.  The historic Fire Protection maps of Chicago, building permit records, and newspaper searches, all yielded important clues, while 1960’s era drawings of plumbing renovations provided additional useful information. 

The historical archives revealed that the building once featured a one-story wrap around porch, while a second floor addition over front entry was constructed circa 1944, shortly after the building was sold to it’s second owners.   The modification was made to add a bathroom, and likely included the removal of the porch.  

Studying the building’s geometry and other structures built by the same architect, revealed a few homes in the Chicago neighborhood that offered period-correct examples of nicely detailed, wrap-around porches.   BBA proposed a new design consistent with the original intent, transforming the anchor building of this historic district from a carelessly altered building into a thoughtfully restored beauty. 

BBA Architects produced two versions of revised floor plans designed for modern living with a large combined family room/ kitchen space, mudroom, and new bedroom suites with ensuite bathrooms.  One Scheme was designed inside the original building walls, while the other was designed with a modest rear addition.  Letters from two general contracting firms were also provided, stating probable costs to realize the various schemes. 

The research, together with the proposed design schemes and cost estimates, will provide a clear guide for potential buyers, who can make it their own. This project s a great example of some of the Historic Preservation Services we offer.