Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Original Playboy Mansion and Gold Coast Alley Paved With Wood

On a gorgeous spring day we took a walk through some of Chicago's near north side. Our first stop was at the home of the first Playboy mansion. Located at 1340 North State Parkway this 70 room brick & limestone residence was built in 1899 for Dr. George Swift Isham. And for most of it's life it was a fairly sedate building on a quiet street in one of Chicago's better neighborhoods. In 1959 it was bought by Hugh Hefner and for the next fifteen years it was Hefs hutch. While he lived there the front door had a brass plate that read "Si Non Oscillas, Noli Tintinnare" which in Latin means "If you don't swing, don't ring. It has since been divided up into condo units.  

While I was researching this story I came across a site that had a bunch of pictures from inside this magnificent structure. You can see them here.

After stopping to pay my respects at the former Playboy Mansion I was heading up to some Louis Sullivan designed row houses. As I approached North Ave. a sign caught my eye. It said "Wooden Alley" ah ha this was something I had heard about this was the last alley in Chicago that was still paved with wooden blocks.

For the most part these aren't the original blocks but new ones installed a few years back before it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. There is a small section just off State where the remaining original blocks were placed. The price for paving the alley in 1909 was just a little over three thousand dollars. For repaving the alley the cost was around four hundred thousand dollars. To find out more about wooden paving and a group of "blockheads" effort to restore this alley follow this link.

My Louis Sullivan explorations will be in an upcoming post. Stay tuned.

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