A stately Irving Park home built by investment banking magnate John Nuveen is on its way to becoming a protected site.
On Thursday, the Chicago Commission on Landmarks voted to recommend a landmarks designation to the 19th century Queen Anne style house at 3916 N. Tripp Avenue in Irving Park.
The structure was built in 1892 by then 28-year-old salesman Nuveen in a neighborhood that was considered a burgeoning “railroad suburb” on the outskirts of the city.
The architect can’t officially be tracked down but is strongly suspected to be Clarence H. Tabor, who designed several other similar dwellings in the surrounding neighborhood. Tabor also advertised a rendering of a house in an 1891 Chicago Tribune that features the same design as the Nuveen House.
The two-and-a-half story house—notable for features like its irregular roofline and corner tower with pyramidal roof and ornamentation—has fallen into a state of disrepair in recent years and was nearly demolished by a developer. In December of 2018, a permit to demolish the house was submitted to the city but Preservation Chicago and concerned neighbors in Irving Park objected to the plan.
“This was once a beautiful house, a showplace of the neighborhood. It was so revered that it was a highlight of neighborhood tours of past years,” said Maureen Taylor, who lives across the street from the Nuveen House. “To demolish this Victorian gem for yet another million-dollar mansion would surely be a tragedy.”
The demolition permit was withdrawn in the time since the landmarks commission approved preliminary approval for designation. Preservation Chicago says the Nuveen house would ideally be sold to a “preservation-oriented buyer.”
Nuveen, a German immigrant, lived at the house for three years before moving to the south side when he married. A few short years later, he quit his grocery business to form John Nuveen & Co., a company specializing in the selling of municipal bonds issued by towns around the Midwest and Puerto Rico. His bonds were key in the funding for Wacker Drive, Grant Park, and later $90 million of CTA improvements.
Today, Nuveen is a global investment management firm headquartered in Chicago. It’s arguably most famous for the 513-square-foot sign of the company logo installed in Wrigley Field’s outfield in 2016.