University Avenue

5615 S University Ave Chicago

South Park Walking Tour/University Avenue
Chicago Studies at the University of Chicago
Written By Chicago Studies at the University of Chicago

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.

Audio Commentary:

University Avenue

Content by John Mark Hansen, Charles L. Hutchinson Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago and author of "The City in a Garden: A Guide to the History of Hyde Park and Kenwood."
University Avenue (Audio for Web)
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5615 University, then 5615 Lexington, was the home of James Breasted, built in 1910. Breasted was the first American to earn a Ph.D in Egyptology, an original member of the University of Chicago faculty, and the founder of the Haskell Oriental Museum and the Oriental Institute (1919). The architect, Howard Van Doren Shaw, modeled the house on a villa owned by a 16th-century Italian poet. At one time, the house had a Latin inscription over door and a coach house in the form of a mastaba—an Egyptian structure with inward-sloping walls, in back. The only ornament that is left are the rings that flank the door, meant to hold torches. Now proceed to 5735 University.

5735 Lexington (University) was the home of Robert Herrick, an English professor and novelist, who is one of 35 Illinois writers whose name is engraved on the Illinois State Library in Springfield. Herrick was a native of Boston, the “American Athens,” and had a rather low opinion of Chicago, the University, and its intelligentsia. One of the novels, The Common Lot (1904), was an attack on local critics who found his new house “vulgar.” After he left Chicago, his home was used for many years as the residence of the consul general of Japan. One of them, Kuburu Saburo, was later the Japanese diplomat who signed the Tripartite Pact with Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy and accompanied the Japanese ambassador to the State Department on December 7, 1941, to break off peace negotiations with the United States government. Now go to 58 & University (Lexington).

The Oriental Institute is on site of the first Quadrangle Club building. The Quad Club was (until recently) an independent faculty club, founded in the Hotel Barry in 1894. The Georgian building. designed by Charles Atwood (Palace of Fine Arts) and built in 1896. In 1912, the Club moved to its new building at 57 & University, designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw. The School of Commerce took occupancy in 1923. Six years later, to make way for the Oriental Institute, the university moved the building through the Quad on rollers and set it behind the Press Building (bookstore), with its back to the street, it being difficult to turn it around. For the rest of its life it was Ingleside Hall, which many people will remember as the location of Station U of the post office. The Oriental Institute opened here in 1931.

Across the street, the Chicago Theological Seminary was and is the oldest postsecondary school in the city, founded in 1855 to train students for ministry in the Congregational Church (now United Church of Christ). In 1914, it affiliated with University of Chicago and began to move from its campus on Union Park (Ashland and Madison) to Hyde Park. Around 1915, it moved into a 3 story colonial house at 5757 Lexington (University). It acquired the adjoining property on Woodlawn in 1917. The collegiate gothic complex along 58th St was completed in stages between 1923 and 1927. 5757 was Graham Taylor Hall, named for a theologian on the CTS faculty who was prominent in the development of settlement houses and social work. The tower was the last part to be completed. It was a memorial to Victor Fremont Lawson, the founder and publisher of the Chicago Daily News and a founder of the Associated Press. Lawson was a member of the Congregational Church. His donation to CTS in 1924 enabled it to complete its campus. Among its other distinctions, the CTS was first to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr with an honorary degree in 1957. The CTS moved to a new building at 60th and Dorchester around 2010. Now we’re going to continue south on University. The parking lot on the other side of the OI was the site of Lexington Hall, built in 1903 as an activities center for women in the “junior college.” Behind it was an athletics field surrounded by a high fence so that the young women could exercise shielded from the prying eyes of their male colleagues. Now proceed to the President’s House at 59th and University.

Our tour continues with "59th and University."

South Park Walking Tour

University Avenue

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