Dennis Rodkin recently visited a Victorian home on the 2000 block of Seminary, in Lincoln Park‘s DePaul neighborhood, and recounted some of its early and more recent history:
Built in 1861 as the farmhouse for a truck farm that delivered its produce into Chicago, the house still has several of its original elements. The ornate gingerbread on its Victorian façade, the front porch, and even the wrought-iron fence are all believed to date to the home’s construction.
The house was rundown and a candidate for demolition in the early 1990s. That’s when a renovation partnership bought it from the family that had owned the property for about 90 years.
When I lived on the 2000 block of Seminary, the home was known as “Mrs O’Neill’s house.”
Edna O’Neill was in her 90s when I moved there in the late 70s, and most of the block came together to help her care for her home and herself. People took turns taking her grocery shopping, shoveling her snow, maintaining the house, helping her get to doctor appointments, etc. The block held a birthday party for her in the back yard of her home every year. The neighborhood was far less homogenous and far less affluent at the time, and still had traces of its once largely Italian population.
In her younger years Mrs O’Neill had been a secretary to Bathhouse John Coughlin. She also remembered attending the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition as a young girl.
The home evidently passed through an estate, since 14 separate owners executed deeds in 1991 to transfer the property to new ownership, according to the Cook County Recorder’s office.
The home, at 2029 N Seminary, is currently listed for sale at $1,574,900 with Coldwell Banker’s .
You can see the home’s setting at 3:40 in the following video, the first part of a two-part walk along the 2000 block of Seminary. The second part is at YouTube.