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Current talk about architecture tends to focus on the “Modern,” often overlooking previous masterpieces, such as buildings by inadequately appreciated master Benjamin Marshall (1874-1940). He built very little in Evanston, but what he did build has easily stood the test of time and is still a visual pleasure, regardless of its location. Marshall’s talent has been credited in this column in the past, but perhaps a further discussion of his work is worth undertaking, starting with his landmarks in Chicago.
The large, pink-painted, many-angled apartment building near Hollywood Avenue on Lakeshore Drive in Chicago – formerly The Edgewater Apartments – escapes dismissal as ‘the pink building,’ and is instead a landmark, because of the classic proportions Marshall incorporated. The building at 1200 North Lake Shore Drive in Chicago is also one of Marshall’s designs. In addition, he is responsible for Chicago’s Palmer House Hotel and other buildings throughout the metropolitan area.
In Evanston itself, a careful look at the building on the corner of Emerson and Judson brings to notice a beautifully simple line-up of bay windows not
to be seen elsewhere.
This simple and elegant building was designed by Marshall and is the only one he designed in the City of Evanston. It is a treasure.
A gem by other architects is less visible and, without a “passport,” cannot be reached. Only residents and their guests would know that above the stylish building on the northeast corner of Chicago and Grove by Thielborg and Fugard is a surprise: an elegant courtyard. There is no indication from the exterior that it exists. The recently installed colored tile work at the street level does not hint at what is hidden a story up. The tile-work, unfortunately, just looks out of place. What a gift to the general public if the owners would open the courtyard to visitors on some occasion(s), perhaps included on
a periodic House Walk. It would be a tremendous public education as well as an architectural treat.
Good architecture – whole buildings or significant parts of buildings – enriches the entire community.