Workers cottages were the go-to homes for working families in the 19th century. Thousands of them were built to help reconstruct the city after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, but where are they today? Unlike the abundant bungalows and greystones, preservationists are worried workers cottages are getting demolished way too frequently.
But don’t fret, we’ve rounded up a few workers cottages, and homes inspired by the vernacular, that are for sale right now in neighborhoods across the city.
Many of the workers cottages built between 1830 and 1890 still exist in neighborhoods like Bucktown, Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, and Pilsen. An art sculpture is even going up at Wood Street and Milwaukee Avenue to honor the home type.
If you’re not familiar, a typical workers cottage is one-and-a-half stories with a gabled roof facing the street. They were affordable for the middle class—costing $2,000 when new—and easy to build quickly for the arrival of Chicago’s rail and stockyard workers.
The exterior might have decorative lintels, sometimes with a floral design, and pairs of ornamental cornices. The home was easy to modify, so it isn’t uncommon to find two- or three-story workers cottages constructed with materials like brick, wood or even stone.
We’ll start with this Humboldt Park workers cottage. Built in 1885, the five-bedroom home has two-and-a-half bathrooms, a full basement, garage and big yard. It’s off to a good start, but it still needs an owner who’s willing to put in some work. The asking price is $415,000.
In Wicker Park, this six-bedroom, three-bathroom home is on the market for $750,000. The three-unit property is set up for an owner and tenants—each with two bedrooms and one bathroom. The owner’s unit is a duplex with a private upper deck, exposed brick and skylights.
This cozy Bucktown three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom comes with a dedicated library and two outdoor deck areas. While this home has many of the characteristics of a workers cottage, it was built in 1999. And the home’s late 90s roots show quite a bit: the interior wall angles, mod fireplace, and glass block tile wall. Asking price is $699,999.
Built in 1884, this Ukrainian Village home has been completely renovated, but still retains classic workers cottage cornices and window hoods. The home features a three-bedroom, two-bathroom duplex owner’s unit and a two-bedroom, one-bathroom first floor unit currently being rented out for $2,600. Asking price is $999,900.
Dating back to 1910, this three-story Bucktown home has undergone an extensive interior renovation. Hence, the $1,475,000 price tag. There’s a heated four-car garage, a Carrara marble bathroom, paved outdoor patio garden, and tons of natural light. The four-bedroom, three-bathroom home also has a guest coach house.
- Previous for sale in Chicago coverage [Curbed Chicago]