Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sentimental Sunday: 1893 Building Permit for 1043 Sherman Ave., Evanston, Illinois

Another day trip in our a week-long visit to Chicago was to another north-side suburb, Evanston.  My German immigrant great-grandfather, John Pape (1851-1945), was settled there by 1882.  His home according to the 1882-3 Evanston City Directory was on the "w[est] s[ides] Sherman av s[outh of] Greenleaf."

The 1883 directory, which includes separate listings for the village of South Evanston, says his home was at "Sherman ave se cor[ner] Greenleaf." By the 1889 & 1890 directories, it is "e[ast] s[ide] Sherman av 2d s Greenleaf."  The abbreviation "d" is not explained in the guide, but I think this must mean two doors south of Greenleaf.  That's where 1043 Sherman Avenue, the house my great-grandfather lived in from at least 1894 through at least 1925, was located.

I'd always wondered if my great-grandfather, who started out as a carpenter, built that house.  Now, thanks to the Research Room & Archives at the Evanston History Center, I know that he did (click on documents throughout this post to enlarge them):

I found these documents in the house file for 1043 Sherman, containing old city records (such as building permits and inspection reports) and real estate listings.  The "Application for Building Permit" above and the "Permit Granted" form below were the oldest in the file, dated April 7, 1893.  The two-story with basement house (apparently designed by John Pape, as well) would have nine rooms and be 28 feet wide, 35 or 35.5 feet deep, and 30 feet tall.  It would include a water closet with sink, bathtub, and toilet bowl, be heated by steam, and lighted by gas.   The total cost of building was estimated to be $800, and the mason was James Wigginton.  The legal description of the property at the time referred to the south quarter of Lot 2 of the J. M. Meyers Subdivision (lot 6 according to the tax accessor).  The building permit cost $2.

Apparently there was an additional fee to pay for water service, based on the amount of brick and plaster used in the house, according to a note on the back of the previous document:

The next form is a bit puzzling.  Although the date written on it is April 7, 1893, it is written on a form printed for the 1920s.  It doesn't tell us anything new, and some of the details (depth of house, and subdivision name) are slightly different - perhaps information copied incorrectly from the original permit:

The file also contained a building permit, below, dated November 8, 1920,  to add a frame garage, 12 feet wide, 18 feet deep, and 11 feet 6 inches high, to cost $80.  This structure had its owner, John Pape, as architect and carpenter.  Interestingly, though, this form and the next one are both signed "John Pape per L. J. Pape," L. J. being son Lee John Pape (1893-1979), also a carpenter.

The back of the previous form had a rough sketch showing the relationship of the garage (the small rectangle at the back of the lot) to the house (the large rectangle on Sherman Avenue):

The building permit was issued (below), the permit costing $1.08 (one dollar plus one-tenth of one percent of the cost of the building):

The other document I copied from the house file was a circa-1975 real estate listing.  By this point in time, the house had been divided into three 4-5 room apartments, likely one on each floor, but each with a bathroom and a range.  The two-car garage was rented separately, and the total monthly income was $624.  Estimated expenses included taxes of $692.73, insurance of $192.60, and electricity, gas heat, and water bills likely passed on to the tenant.  The asking price was $49,500.

And here is a photograph of the house, circa 1965, from the other side of the real estate listing.  Note the garage to the right, near the back of the lot.

Finally, the Evanston History Center also had a large file cabinet with "house cards," "index cards with basic information noted by other researchers."  Here is the one for 1043 Sherman.  You'll note that according to the 1894 city directory, a molder, Carl Wegener, and his wife Elsie also lived in the house.  I'll be doing some more research on Carl to find the connection.  Around 1900, the Pape family was living in a house closer to the Senge & Pape Dry Goods store on Armitage in Chicago, and they rented out the house at 1043 Sherman.  John and Gertrude's children got separate listings in the city directories as they reached adulthood.

Someone had handwritten a note "nothing in CBR [city building records?] to indicate when built.  Here in 1893."  Apparently that notation was made before the 1893 permit was put in the file.  I'd like to know what, then, was used to determine that the house was "here in 1893."  Also, why does an arrow go from the handwritten "1889D" (D in this case meaning directory) to John's name?  The 1889 directory says only  "Pape John carpenter  r e[ast-]s[ide] Sherman av 2d s Greenleaf."  The house next door at the corner of Greenleaf, 1045 Sherman, is designated an Evanston historical landmark and was supposedly built by a Luxembourg immigrant in the 1880s.

Could it be the house was actually built before 1893, and the permit was issued retroactively?  Materials in the house files at the Evanston History Center only go back to 1893.  Maybe another trip to the Evanston History Center for more research is in my future!

© Amanda Pape - 2017 - click here to e-mail me.

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