Monday, May 24, 2010

Own a Piece of History!

The old Marshall Field Jr. house at 1919 S. Prairie Ave. is for sale. Well, that’s not quite true. The venerable old mansion was restored and converted into six luxury condominium units in 2007. One of those luxury condos is up for sale.

A Home Fit for a Field
The home was originally built for William Murray in 1893. In 1902, Marshall Field Jr. commissioned the legendary Daniel H. Burnham to enlarge it. Just a few doors away from Marshall Field Sr. (1905 S. Prairie), Jr.’s mansion was one of the largest on Prairie Ave.

After Marshall Field Jr.’s death in 1905, the house was converted to a hospital and then a nursing home. It sat vacant for many years, falling into decay. The renovation in 2007 kept the 1902 façade and footprint pretty much in tact. It’s hard to tell that it isn’t still a single-family home, since all residents enter the original main entrance.

A Mysterious Death and those Everleigh Sisters!
The death of Marshall Field has been shrouded in mystery for years. The official story has Marshall Field Jr. accidentally shooting himself at home, but rumors abound regarding “the truth.” Almost from the very beginning, there were stories circulating that Field was shot by a prostitute at the infamous Everleigh Club at 2131-2133 S. Dearborn St. Some believe the Everleigh sisters (Minna and Ada) had his body brought to his home by carriage. Then things were arranged to make Field’s death look like an accident. The above theory is given some credibility by nonfiction author Karen Abbott in her bestseller Sin in the Second City.

The old days when the three richest men in Chicago (Marshall Field, Philip Armour, and George Pullman) all lived on S. Prairie Ave. are gone, but the history and some of the neighborhood’s character survive today.

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