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A number of homes in the Beverly-Morgan Park area may be defined as 19th century vernacular house types. They range in construction date from the earliest houses in the area, through Gable Front houses, some of which were actually built until the 1920s. Some older types have been classified by form or plan such as T-Form and L-Form. Unfortunately, often because of their simplicity, the historic character of many of these housing types has not been fully appreciated. Consequently, many have been greatly altered.


Ridge Historical Society of Chicago House Image - Gable Front Houses

The Gable Front house and Gable Front cottage is a vernacular house type from the late 19th- and early 20th-century characterized by its roof type. The roof has two sloped sides that meet at a center ridge. The triangular ends of the walls on the other two sides are called gables. In a Gable Front House or Cottage, the gable end faces the street and is the front of the house. It is often a working-class home, usually frame with a rectangular plan, minimal projections on the front facade, and front entry on the open end of the gable. Often the porch extends the full width of the front of the house. A Gable Front house is two or more stories tall while a cottage is 1 to 1 1/2 stories. It was a simple type for local builders to construct and is therefore common.


Ridge Historical Society of Chicago House Image - Gabled Ell Houses

Gabled Ell houses were commonly built between 1870 and 1920. Their floor plans were either L-shaped, with a porch in the interior corner of the L, or T-shaped, with the projecting stem toward the street. The side wing or wings are not separate, but rather an integral part of the building core. These houses were usually frame and simple in design, 1 1/2 or 2 stories tall, with an intersecting gable roof at the same height as the main roof. They sometimes had applied ornament around doors and windows. The Gabled Ell provided more light and cross-ventilation than other house types.


Ridge Historical Society of Chicago House Image - Gambrel Front Houses

The Gambrel Front house is similar to the Gable Front, except that the principal roof is a gambrel shape, not a gable. A gambrel roof has two flat surfaces on each side of a central ridge and each is at a different pitch. This type of roof generally characterizes the Dutch Colonial Revival Style. The examples classified as the Gambrel Front type have no other characteristics of that particular high style.

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This section is republished with permission, slightly modified from a Chicago Focus to reference general links and resources for identifying and tracing the history of your home!

Special Thanks to: The Ridge Historical Society of Chicago, IL

The Ridge Historical Society website is a free resource for students, historians and anyone interested in the area history. But in order to keep it going, please consider giving back, whether as an individual or an organization, through one of the following means, according to your financial ability.

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Artisans of the Valley
Hand Crafted Custom Woodworking

Stanley D. Saperstein
Eric M. Saperstein
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