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Stephen J. Beggs House

296 Elm St.,  Elmhurst

 

Built 1910

 

In early May 2002, the

Stephen J. Beggs House in

Elmhurst, was demolished

after a local developer

purchased the lot it sat on

for $460,000.

 

After subdividing the 100' x

400' lot into two parcels,

the builder tore down the

Griffin-designed house.

 
 

He then advertised plans to sell each lot-complete with a new house-for $625,000 apiece. The demolished residence had been built in 1910 for an officer with a patent medicine company. Known as one of America's preeminent Prairie School architects, Griffin designed more than 50 buildings in the Chicago area before moving to Australia in 1914, when he won the competition to design the capital city of Canberra.

 

Elmhurst has no local landmarks ordinance, even though it has two other Griffin-designed houses, buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe, and numerous Victorian-era structures. A draft ordinance was prepared about five years ago, one local resident notes, "but it didn't go anywhere." Meanwhile, the number of teardowns continue to mount-from 23 in 1995 to 105 in 2000. Elmhurst (pop. 45,000) is located 15 miles west of Chicago's Loop.

  

Ironically, city officials thought they had saved the Beggs House in the early-1990s, when they approved a lot subdivision that created a rear lot with a narrow driveway that ran along one property line. Those owners never followed through, however, and this solution was not pursued by the new owner-developer who tore down the historic residence.

 

According to the Walter Burley Griffin Society of America, which is based in St. Louis, this was the first Griffin house to be demolished in the U.S. since 1974. But, unfortunately, another one is expected to follow shortly. Check Chicagoland Watch List, J.S. Marsh House, Winnetka for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landmarks Illinois
Suite 1315
53 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604 
tel. 312-922-1742 
fax 312-922-8112

 

 

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