The basics of Pullman homes

Editor’s note: The following article is reprinted by permission from the Beman Committee of the Pullman Civic Organization’s Guide for Historic Pullman District Home Owners. Visit pullmancivic.org for more information.

“Here for the first time in the history of city building have the dwellings for an entire community been scientifically and artistically built in every part, and from a central thought within one man. Such homes, better in many ways than workmen by their unaided efforts could have hoped for, and better by far than the homes for any other entire community of workmen, have been a boon to the dwellers here.”

“The Town of Pullman,” Mrs. Duane Doty, T.P. Struhsacker, Publisher, 1893

The Pullman National Historic Landmark District extends roughly from 103rd street south to 115th Street, and from Cottage Grove east to the railroad tracks. Within these boundaries, your house is one of about 900 that were built largely between 1880 and 1884 as part of the town of Pullman – one of the nation’s first planned industrial communities. The original town consisted of a central manufacturing area, anchored by the clock tower-capped administration building, with 300 residences located north of 107th Street and 600 residences located south of 111th Street.

All of the buildings in Pullman, including your house, were designed by noted architect Solon S. Beman. Most homes were single-family residences, but there were also a number of two-flat, four-flat and six-flat apartment buildings, along with four larger apartment buildings that housed 12 families each. Generally, the larger and more ornate residences were sited nearest to the factory.

With the exception of a small handful of wood-frame houses on the outskirts of the town, all houses were constructed of brick, many with face brick that was made from clay dredged from the bottom of Lake Calumet. Built in a Queen Anne style, most houses were built in matched pairs. Houses originally had wooden porches, most of which were coverless, but some had canopies. All windows were wooden double hung sashes with a variety of true divided lite configurations (each sash being divided into a number of smaller panes of glass.)

There were several different door styles – some with windows, some without. Most houses boasted mansard roofs, and most of those were covered in slate. A number of homes had other wooden or limestone decorative elements.

The Beman Committee is in the process of documenting and developing design specifications for the façade elements original to each and every Pullman residence. Once we have completed this project, we plan to post the information online. Until then, we can provide façade element documentation and design specifications on a case-by-case basis upon request. (Contact Beman Committee member Arthur Pearson at 773-844-1022 or arthurmelville@earthlink.net.)

If you would like to discover what people have resided in your house over the years, visit the Pullman Virtual Museum at pullman-museum.org and click on “House Histories.”