Architecture, History, and Neighborhood Pride Abound in Logan Square

The Logan Square Preservation House and Garden Walk last Saturday was on a beautiful and sunny—perfect for a house and garden tour, particularly in Logan Square. Some of the homes and apartment buildings around Logan Boulevard have a history back to when the area was settled by Norwegians and incorporated into Chicago.

Logan Square is what I call an old-school Chicago neighborhood much like Morgan Park where I grew up. There are stately buildings that were once homes for the very wealthy and also places for their community activities.
The Stan House is an eye-popping restoration with marble floors and enough crystal chandeliers to define the essence of bling. It was built in 1923 as a Masonic Lodge for the Knights Templar. It seems proper that a “secret society” that held rituals and granted degrees of membership would have such as opulent home.

Lots of gold leaf decorate the fireplaces and trim of two ballrooms, bars, and a very elegant women’s restroom. All of that and 38-foot ceilings comprise a venue that is host to the candlelight events you may have seen on social media.

The former Norske Klub was a residence where the owner allowed Logan Square Preservation to host groups limited to 10 at a time in a condo. The owner kept the original beams and huge fireplace. The docent explained how the owner had removed drywall to expose the gorgeous wood beams and meticulously scraped white paint from a fireplace façade. The mantel area was decorated with carvings of faces I would expect on a Viking ship’s hull. The Comedy-Tragedy masks were also on both sides of the mantel. I expected Alexander Skarsgård to be standing next to the giant fireplace dressed exactly as he was in The Northman (2022).

The exterior craftsmanship and style of the neighborhood are found throughout Logan Square and not relegated to the boulevard. Curved and angled streets are enclaves of lovely two-flats that once housed more than one generation of a family. They are framed by beautiful gardens on the front and sides.

The streets were closed off at the end of Logan Boulevard for an antique auto display. Like the homes we saw, these cars were built to last. Cars with immaculate engine blocks went on foor three blocks. At first, I thought it was a bit incongruous but then these cars could have been parked in front of some of the storied residences.
It was great to have a guided tour with a trolley and docents, but we went off on our own with the program as a reference. As a lifelong Chicagoan, I would be thrilled to have this kind of restoration in other neighborhoods. Of course, that would take the time and focus of a group dedicated to the restoration and preservation of beautiful spaces. Logan Square Preservation is such a group, organizing community activities like house and garden tours as well as taking a part in zoning and planning. It’s part of what makes Chicago a city of neighborhoods.

I came away inspired to look into the history of other Chicago neighborhoods. Did you know that Bucktown is named for all of the goats that the Polish settlers kept? May you be inspired to find out the history of where you live.

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Kathy D. Hey
Kathy D. Hey

Kathy D. Hey writes creative non-fiction essays. A lifelong Chicagoan, she is enjoying life with her husband, daughter and three dogs in the wilds of Edgewater. When she isn’t at her computer, she is in her garden growing vegetables and herbs for kitchen witchery.