Architectural Hot Spots in the Gold Coast

Archbishop’s Residence – State Parkway & North Avenue

Built in 1885, the Archbishop’s Residence (pictured above) is one of the oldest buildings in the Gold Coast. Chicago’s first archbishop Patrick Feehan directed this beautiful historic estate to be constructed at State Parkway and North Avenue. Consisting of three levels, the second floor is primarily utilized as a private living domain for the acting archbishop. On the grounds lives a red carriage house, which provides living quarters for the nuns who look after the mansion. The Residence showcases many tell-tale characteristics of the ‘Queen Anne’ style of architecture with its asymmetrical facade, front-facing gable, and a prominent polygonal tower. It is also home to a myriad of fireplaces, giving the mansion the charming nickname ‘the house of 19 chimneys’. Behind the home, there is even an alley paved with wooden blocks; a rare sight in 21st century Chicago. With a zip code in the Gold Coast, this property currently has an appraised value of over 14 million dollars. Given that this is still an occupied and private residence, there are no indoor tours available. However, one can easily admire the stunning and historic facade of this iconic building while out strolling the neighborhood.

Driehaus Museum – 40 E Erie St

A step back in time to 19th century Chicago, the Driehaus Museum offers visitors all the opulence of the Gilded Age inside banker Samuel M. Nickerson’s restored mansion. Renowned as a ‘marble palace’, the house exemplifies a higher standard of excellence than ever previously seen in Chicago. The entry hall alone flaunts 17 different types of marble, and the walls of the music room are adorned with oysters, gold, and silver silk damask. Glamour is found in excess here, and it does not disappoint. Both public and privately guided tours are readily available for your visit, with virtual programs being found on their website. When attending in-person, there are a variety of exhibitions featured throughout the year to enjoy, while you ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ your way through this over-the-top estate.

Astor Street Residences in Chicago’s Gold Coast.

Charnley-Persky Museum – 1365 N Astor

Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright built this Gold Coast mansion for wealthy lumber baron James Charnley in the 1890s. A departure from the stylistic norms of the period, this National Historic Landmark Building flaunts abstract design alongside simplistic bravado. That might sound like a tricky combination to pull off, but with a visionary like Wright (and his partner, nicknamed the ‘father of modernism’) at the helm, something remarkable was always bound for this address; the mansion is now known as a pivotal work of modern American architecture. A visit to the Charnley-Persky Museum is like witnessing global history in action – the world of architecture as we know it was changed from that moment on, right here in the Gold Coast. Tours are complimentary on Wednesdays, and also available on Saturdays for a small fee.

Entrance of the Charnley-Persky Residence and Museum in the Gold Coast.