Chicago Studies, a program of the undergraduate College at the University of Chicago, offers curricular and co-curricular opportunities to discover, study, and engage with the diverse communities of our world-class city.
5723 Madison, now Dorchester, was originally the Hyde Park Exchange Building, built for the Chicago Telephone Co. in 1902. Inside it, 50 employees connected calls for 2200 subscribers. The original façade had a limestone cornice with the company’s name inscribed on it, bands of raised brick for decoration, and an entrance on the south corner. The HP telephone exchange moved to 6045 Kenwood in 1914. The new owners renovated the building for apartments by extending the building’s front. If you look on the sides, the raised brick bands now have the appearance of quoins. The homes across the street at 5714 and 5704 are among the oldest in the neighborhood, dating to the 1860s or 1870s. Like other old houses, they have clapboard siding and Italianate architecture. The city fire code, developed after the Chicago Fire in 1871, mandated masonry construction. It was not imposed south of 55th St until 1892. Other homes of similar vintage are at 5642 and 5607 Dorchester and 5630 Kimbark.
The southwest corner of 57th and Dorchester was the site of the Beatrice Hotel, built in 1892 for the world’s fair and used as a women’s dormitory while the University of Chicago finished its own. In the early days of the University, a fair number of the faculty also boarded at the Beatrice. If you don’t mind a detour north up Dorchester, the second floor apartment at 5619 Dorchester was the boyhood home of the composer and memoirist Ned Rorem. His father, C. Rufus Rorem, was an expert in hospital finance and a promoter of private health insurance, particularly Blue Cross and Blue Shield. On your way to the next stop, you can click the link and listen to Ned Rorem’s musical portrait of Dorchester Avenue.
Now go west on 57th St. If you don’t mind another detour, you can turn left down Kenwood. 5731 Kenwood was the longtime home of the economist Milton Friedman. 5732, across the street, was the home of Nicholas Hunt, the chief of police in Hyde Park and a high ranking police official in Chicago. Hunt was either an outstanding police professional or an officer with an itchy palm. He was a favorite of the business community for actions he took to put down strikes; moral reformers like the Hyde Park Protective Association regarded him as a scoundrel who protected the saloons and gambling houses. He did manage to build himself a nice home. Note the date on porch, 1892. Otherwise, continue down 57th to the front of Medici Bakery (1327).