The best way to answer that question is to view the Lakewood Balmoral neighborhood from the air. If you ever find yourself flying over the neighborhood upon landing at O’Hare, you will notice a very distinctive green rectangle near the coastline. This green rectangle is an oasis of oversized city lots with over 400 single-family homes and two-flats built from the 1890s to the 1920s. This low-density historic area is in stark contrast to the more modern and densely zoned areas adjacent to Lakewood Balmoral. The unique architectural character and streetscape of the neighborhood, visible from the sky, is the result of many years of preserving John Cochran’s original vision for the third addition to Edgewater. This is why Lakewood Balmoral remains one of the most fully intact historic neighborhoods in the City of Chicago and why it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
Many homeowners have asked for help in restoring the historic character of their house while planning their renovation. There are no restrictions on what a homeowner can do, but since most buyers value and indeed have moved here because of its historic character, Thom Greene, resident, architect, and the leader of the Lakewood Balmoral's Historic District effort, has compiled a few examples of historic features prevalent in our neighborhood homes. There are far more details than we can include here, but Thom will be happy to answer your questions and this list should help provide some guidance on considerations regarding façades, siding, windows, porches, brick and stone work, and general historic touches.
The front façade is most important factor in supporting the historic charm of Lakewood Balmoral and the original design intent of its homes. Although historic materials don’t always match modern low maintenance options, lately some products have adapted to the historic look and feel of vintage homes. Items such as alternate siding, and aluminum clad windows can be used for the sides and backs of homes that aren’t seen directly from the sidewalk. This preserves the original intent while improving the comfort and longevity of historic homes.
Façades vary from narrow clapboard, to wood shingles, to stucco, brick and limestone. The restoration of these original materials would be the first objective, especially with brick, stone and stucco. Re-creating the wood clapboard siding (3” exposure), at least on the front façade, should be given priority. Items such as cement board or vinyl siding can be used for the sides and backs of homes that aren’t seen directly from the sidewalk.
Historically, the windows would have been all wood double-hung with painted exterior. This type of wood window is available today from many companies along with insulated energy-efficient glass, while keeping the original opening size and proportions. If there are original divided lights on the windows, they can be simulated wood, but not with the flat metal dividers sandwiched between glass. Again, metal clad and Fiberglass low-maintenance type windows can be utilized on the sides and back of the home.
Open front porches are an important part of the front façades and sidewalk social life of the neighborhood. Railings, newel posts and column details are critical components. Bead board porch ceilings are prevalent in all the homes and two-flats. The type and spacing of porch railing spindles is an important design feature. Keeping them closely spaced is best. For porch newel posts, take clues from your interior stair newel post details. Porch columns should be in scale with the façade and either classical - square or round with Doric or Arts & Crafts detailing. Porch floors are historically tongue and groove wood and are painted. Some PVC/composite products today meet this look and are low maintenance.
Restoration of the original material is imperative, including light chemical washing and sensitive tuckpointing. The mortar type and color should be addressed to match the brick. Express the brick, not the mortar.
Historically correct columns and capitals, crown moldings, brackets, lattice work, lights and decorative appliques are all available today in many types of materials and styles. These alone may not be significant but, they all add up to the charm that
Lakewood Balmoral is known for.
This is just a general outline of the original historic design intent for Lakewood Balmoral. The easiest way to find details is to walk our neighborhood and find historic and charming homes that match your home’s style and use their details as a model.
Also, finding an Architect who is knowledgeable about historic home restoration can be helpful in your preserving and/or adding to the character of your
Lakewood Balmoral home.
Lakewood Balmoral was developed by John Lewis Cochran in 1890. Homes vary in style from Victorian/Queen Anne & Shingle Style, to American Four Square/Prairie Style, including Classical Brick & Stone Two-Flats, mostly dating from the 1890s to the 1920s. The city surveyed the historic character of the neighborhood in the 1980s and identified 11 “orange-rated” homes in Lakewood Balmoral. These are homes that have unique historic, architectural and cultural significance to the city’s history.