Beer Baron Row

N Hoyne Ave & W Pierce Ave Chicago

Amy Bizzarri
Written By Amy Bizzarri

At the center of Chicago's eclectic Wicker Park neighborhood lies the eponymous triangular-shaped park that early developer Charles Wicker, and his brother Joel, donated to the city in 1870. Post-fire, the duo, who had also purchased 80 acres of land along Milwaukee Avenue, laying out a subdivision with a mix of lot sizes, made their fortune as homeless Chicagoans looked westward to build their new homes. Chicago's wealthy Northern European immigrants, especially the brewers that worked hard to rise from the ashes, made Wicker Park a neighborhood of their very own, building ornate Victorian mansions on the tree-lined streets, particularly Hoyne and Pierce avenues, which became known as Beer Baron Row. Start at 2137 West Pierce Avenue, the Gingerbread-style mansion of German-American furniture tycoon Hermann Weinhardt. Across the street, 2138 W. Pierce Ave. which once served as the Polish consulate, features elaborate exterior Eastlake/Stick-style decorative wood carvings; the original owner was treasurer of a wood milling company: famed pianist Ignace Paderewski once gave an outdoor concert from the veranda and it's been known as the Paderewski House ever since. The Italianate dream of a mansion at 1407 N. Hoyne Ave., was perhaps haunted: the original owner, German wine and beer merchant John H. Rapp, was murdered by his bookkeeper while his wife went insane. 1558 N. Hoyne St. is one of the oldest homes in the area, having been built for C. Hermann Plautz, founder of the Chicago Drug and Chemical Company in 1877: note the metal exterior trim, a post-fire precaution. The real cannon displayed out remains from the years when the home served as an American Legion Hall.

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