The corner mansion at 2700 North Lakeview has changed hands and been emptied of its innards, in advance of being redeveloped. This historic property, which for decades has housed a recovery center for the mentally ill, appears poised to become a residence again. The fire escapes and boarded-over windows that disfigured its facade have vanished, yielding a clearer view of this massive townhouse, which, with its three neighbors to the north, were designed by the firm of Adler and Dangler and built between 1915 and 1917.
The Lakeview Avenue Row Houses, as they are called collectively, sought and acquired landmark status from the city in late May, 2016. The original owners of the four Georgian-style houses (numbered 2700, 2704, 2708, and 2710, respectively) were the Philadelphia-born Emily Borie Ryerson, Abram Poole, Henry Corwith Dangler (who co-designed the townhouses and died the year they were completed), and Ambrose C. Cramer (Dangler’s cousin, who was also an architect). Two more townhouses, intended for muralist Frederic Clay Bartlett and investor George F. Porter, were never built. They would have occupied the ground where the Elks Memorial stands.
After Emily Ryerson, a widow, remarried and moved to New York, her house changed hands twice before being acquired in 1946 to be put to use as a private school. (The fire escapes dated from that time.) By the 1970s, the school had outgrown the property and moved up to 541 Hawthorne Place, selling its old home to the non-profit Thresholds, which owned it until 2016. A group of buyers whom Michael Lerner represented bought the by-then-rundown mansion for $2.8 million dollars; but Lerner, et al., quickly unloaded it in an unimproved state, selling it to investors associated with Foster Design Build in March 2017.
This video by Dennis Rodkin, who covers Chicago real estate, gives some idea of the original grandeur of the David Adler-designed interiors, which the other homes in the bloc have better preserved. Because of number 2700’s institutional ownership, much of its inner integrity has been destroyed. The day I walked by, the demolition crew were still working; when asked what was left of the original interior, they mentioned only a ballroom and a spiral stair.