National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register is part of a nation-wide program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archaeological resources.
A listing in the National Register of Historic Places is a highly beneficial and honorary distinction enabling the owner to freely maintain and manage the property if no government funds or tax credits are used to make non-historic alternations. Guidelines for preserving, rehabilitating, restoring, and reconstruction of historic buildings should, of course, be followed if the owner wishes to continue listing the property in the National Register of Historic Places.
Currently, Kenilworth only has eight properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. However, nearly every house in Kenilworth is eligible to be placed on the National Register. In 2008 the Village of Kenilworth was nominated to the National Register as a Historic District. This nomination would have recognized the historic architectural, social, and cultural value of Kenilworth. However, the Village voted down the nomination and it was pulled from consideration. For accurate information about the nomination process and what the National Register does and does not do, contact the Kenilworth Historical Society or visit the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency at www.illinois.gov/ihpa/Preserve/Pages/Places.aspx or the National Park Service at www.nps.gov/nr/
Hairm Baldwin House
205 Essex Rd. (Centennial House)
This is the only structure in Kenilworth designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and constructed for Hiram Baldwin in 1905, this residence belongs to the formative period of Wright’s development of the Prairie House. Securing this project was most likely considered a triumph by Wright, considering Kenilworth was the strong hold of fellow Prairie School architect George Maher and many other prominent Chicago School architects. The Baldwin house shares many design aspects of the quintessential Prairie House: prominent overhangs, centrifugal plan, broad chimneys, continuous still lines, and ribbons of casements. The design of the house also reveals the Japanese influence on Wright, (Wright traveled to Japan in 1905), in the use of wood screens to define exterior court yards. The house had been altered several times by various owners, but has since been mostly restored to its original design. The house was added to National Register of Historic Places in July of 1983.
Kenilworth Assembly Hall
410 Kenilworth Ave.
The Kenilworth Assembly Hall may be the most important Maher design in the village. Of all his work, this building is closest to the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, as one can see by comparing it to Wright’s Hiram Baldwin house of 1905 at 205 Essex Road, a few blocks away. Maher’s low-slung clubhouse extends out over its site, almost as if it were hugging the ground. The hall also offers an excellent example of Maher’s “motif-rhythm” theory: a diamond capping a long stem is seen throughout the building in a variety of sizes. The recently restored art glass windows are particularly important. Note that in each window the diamond-on–a-stem motif takes on greater intricacy with the addition of various colors and a stylized flower framed by the diamond.
The plan of the Kenilworth Assembly Hall is simple: the main east section holds a large assembly hall with stage; the wing to the west of the entrance originally contained a library and kitchen. Today the library area is used as a reception space, but the kitchen remains. The 1914 addition on the south side provides more service space and a canopied drive-up entrance. Originally, the Kenilworth Avenue entrance featured a pergola with an elm tree growing through it. The club was added to National Register of Historic Places in March of 1979.
George W. Maher’s House
424 Warwick Rd. (Centennial House)
At the age of 29 in 1893, Maher built his own home at 424 Warwick. The most whimsical of Maher’s Kenilworth designs, it has been described as a “piquant blend of Victorian, Chinese, Swiss Chalet, Gothic, and Arts and Crafts styles.” With its striking emphasis on verticality, the exterior of the house is dominated by a steeply-pitched roof that is enveloped in diamond-shaped shingles. The roof and the peaked dormers that punctuate it are crowned by a cluster of decorative finials. The frequent use of the diamond pattern-in the individual window panes, in the front porch window, in the roof shingles, and in interior details-is an early version of Maher’s “motif-rhythm” theory.
George Maher lived in the house until his death. His son Philip lived his last years in the house, which remained in the Maher family until the mid-1980s. The house was added to National Register of Historic Places in March of 1979.
William de Coursey O’Grady House
149 Kenilworth Ave. (Centennial House)
William de Coursey O’Grady was the residence’s first long-term owner who purchased the home in 1901. The Classical Revival/Georgian Revival house is the work of the Kenilworth Company architect, Franklin P. Burnham. Originally, the house was built for Joseph Sears, Kenilworth’s founder, in 1898. The architecture of the O’Grady house is unique to the Village, most residences are in the Queen Anne, Tudor, or Prairie style. The house’s ornamental finishes are much in keeping with the Classical/Georgian Revival features. The O’Grady House is a two-and-a-half story residence with a rectangular mass, hipped roof with a one-story enclosed porch on the east side, as well as a covered porch on the north side. Classical detailing dominates the design, which is generally symmetrical, and includes fluted Ionic pilasters that form the house’s corners and flank the slightly projecting entrance bay. Minor alternations were made to the home in the 1930s, 1950s, and 2000s. The house was added to National Register of Historic Places in December of 2008.
Charles N. Ramsey and Harry E. Weese House
141 Kenilworth Ave.
Built in 1908 for Charles M. Ramsey the house is the most typical example of a Foursquare in Kenilworth. The house stands 2 1/2 stores tall and is topped by a broad hipped roof with a wide overhang. Like most Foursquares, the house has a relatively open floor plan. Its ornamentation was inspired by the architecture of the Arts & Crafts movement. A sun room and tandem sleeping porch were added to the home in the 1920’s by the Weese family. The family owned the residence from 1919 until 1942, making the Weese family the longest owner of the property. It was at this address that architects Harry M. Weese and Benjamin Weese, lived during their formative years. Harry Weese was known for his ardent support of historic preservation and for his influence in 20th century modernist architecture. The house was added to National Register of Historic Places in April of 2009.
326 Essex Rd. (Centennial House)
The Root-Badger House, located on a little less than an acre of land was designed by Daniel Burnham and built in 1896 by Kenilworth Resident, Paul Starrett. Burnham is remembered in Chicago as the coordinating architect of the World’s Colombian Exposition of 1893. The house was named in recognition of its first two owners: music publisher, Frank Root, for whom the house was built and Alpheus Sheve Badger who occupied the home from 1900 until 1913 and added a rear addition to the house in 1905. The house was added to National Register of Historic Places in May of 1992.
The house is considered one of the finest examples of Classic Revival architecture on the North Shore – an architectural style made popular by the Colombian Exposition. The symmetry of the front of the house is echoed by the interior: the central hall and staircase are flanked by a library and dining room to the north and living room to the south. The interior of the house features a baroque decorative scheme which counterpoints the classical exterior.
Wild Flower and Bird Sanctuary in Mahoney Park
Public Parks were an important part of the City Beautiful movement. Until the 1930s, Kenilworth’s parkland was concentrated around the train station along Kenilwoth Avenue. But in 1931, Kenilworth received a significant addition to its parks with the establishment of Mahoney Park.
Daniel Mahoney and his wife Bridget purchased a 38-acre homestead from the federal government in the mid-1800s. Their homestead was located in the southeast part of today’s Kenilworth, and included the land that later became Mahoney park. In 1922, after Daniel and Bridget died part of the land was sold to developers and the rest was retained by their daughter, Mary. In Mary’s will, she bequeathed her land to the Village of Kenilworth to be used as a park.
The Kenilworth Home and Garden Club recommend to the village that the park be used as a wildflower preserve and bird sanctuary. In 1933, KHGC secured landscape architect Jens Jensen to develop a plan for the park. The bulk of the project was paid for with funds provided by the federal government’s Civil Works Administration. The work was done by CWA crews and supervised by Jensen and the Kenilworth park District. The park was added to National Register of Historic Places in April of 1985.
Dr. Robert Hohf House
303 Sheridan Rd.
Designed by Keck & Keck and built in 1957 this is the only International Style residence in Kenilworth. The Keck’s received a citation of merit in residential design from the American Institute of Architects in 1961 for this house. A two car garage was built in front of the house to increase privacy. The interior is centered around an atrium facing the Lake with floor to ceiling windows and a 9-square-foot pool with a fountain in the corner. The roof originally contained a cooling pool, an experiment in solar technology, which was meant to decrease heat transmission through reflection and evaporation. The original owner, Dr. Robert Hohf, helped design the house. Dr. Hohf was the head of vascular surgery at Evanston Hospital until 1993 when he passed away. The house was added to National Register of Historic Places in December of 2008.