While Marie Gallagher had a successful career in rehabilitation counseling, she thinks she may have missed her calling – historical architecture.

“Property Enthusiast [and] Appreciatior of Old Houses,” reads Gallagher’s Instagram biography for her account, Houses of Evanston. Gallagher, an Evanston resident, spends much of her free time walking and driving around the city to find her next pick.

(Image from Houses of Evanston Instagram)

Gallagher started her account at the beginning of the year but before that, the photos lived in an album on her phone’s camera roll. When she was around Evanston and saw a house she adored she would snap a photo and file it away into her collection. While exploring other housing content on Instagram, she saw accounts dedicated to old houses in other cities.

“I thought, ‘I could do that for Evanston,’” she said.

Gallagher started her account and after almost a year and nearly 100 posts, her interest and passion in historic Evanston architecture have only grown. In the beginning, she didn’t do much research. The focus was the photo – good lighting, not a lot of trees equals a good shot – but soon, she wanted to know more.

An artist in Chile who follows Gallagher’s account painted a house she posted. (Image provided)

“I can go down rabbit holes with it,” Gallagher said. “I want to know of all of the information.”

She started using resources the city offers for the various historic districts such as the Lakeshore Historic District map, information on landmark statuses and the Preservation Commission website.  

Gallagher loves anything with older details; Victorian models are her favorite along with Second Empire style. She’s still learning architecture terms and spends time reading about houses in a book her husband got her, a 1974 edition of self-guided walking tours for Evanston architecture.

Evanston self-guided walking tour book from 1974. (Photo provided)

“It started out as a personal diary more so, I wanted to have a record of them,” she said about her Instagram account. “Now, it’s a catalog of the houses. It’ll always be there for people to find.”

While Gallagher said no owners have ever caught her taking photos of their properties, it is something she is cautious about and she is mindful of privacy. She never posts addresses and the closest interaction she has had is someone messaging her and saying it was their grandparents’ house. Yet, she does welcome conversation and always wants to learn more.

To explore Gallagher’s favorite historic houses, browse the account below.

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Sam Stroozas

Sam Stroozas is a reporter and the social media manager at the Evanston RoundTable. She covers small businesses, social justice and human interest stories. Contact her at sam@evanstonroundtable.com and...