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Tim Samuelson: Chicago’s Cultural Historian (Hero)

Tim is a teller of truth about Chicago and its glorious past. Tim is a seeker of truth about Chicago and its intimate details. Tim is Chicago’s Cultural Historian Emeritus. Tim is my friend.

The order of importance in the above statements is irrelevant.

By sheer coincidence, as I sit to write this entry to my blog about the building of my coach house, we are at the 1 year anniversary of a ceremony hosted by Mark Kelly, the then Chicago Cultural Affairs Commissioner, to honor Tim Samuelson and his accomplishments, and mark his Emeritus status, and simultaneous retirement from his active standing at Chicago’s Cultural Historian to what he now: A daily active ‘civilian’ with a gorgeous view from a spectacularly rich in history office in Chicago’s Cultural Center. Basically- nothing much has changed, only now he makes his own schedule.

In a recent email exchange with Tim, he filled me in on some of his ‘civy’ research, and shared that he had found out a little bit of history about my building, its architect, and one of its very first inhabitants.

His email to me:

Maybe you've already researched all this (**I had not…**), but your postings inspired me to look-up the history of the property. The building was built in 1914, and was designed by Ernest N. Braucher - who greatly irritated the architectural community by offering "stock" plans that people could inexpensively purchase, then hire a contractor to build them. Since lots are pretty standard, he did great business in Chicago. It really honked-off the A.I.A and professional architects who made lots of money for doing (alleged) custom plans at many times the price. It was estimated that he was responsible for 13,000 buildings during his 57 years of architectural practice - which could very likely be an all-time record for one architect in Chicago. Braucher really "bucked the system " - which definitely puts him in my personal "Hall of Fame".

In his early years of work in architecture, Braucher was said to have helped design the mosaics here at the Cultural Center. And who was the resident of one of his "stock plan" two-flats? Why....none other than Al Capone!

In the late 1910s and into the 20s, a guy in the second floor apartment had a business of brokering in used cars from the building - which he presumably kept on the site of your new coach house. He was constantly putting ads in the paper alleging "must sell" conditions for getting rid of an old Essex, Maxwell, Overland, and other car brands of the long-ago past.

Additionally, he forwarded me this advertisement clip:

The photos in this ad were shot in my building, presumably some time in the 1950s. Image #2 is my kitchen, and image 3 is unmistakably the dinning room (now my living room). How ‘bout them apples?!?

You know what they say “Learn something’ new every day!” Below you will find the video that I created when I was honored to have been invited to be a contributor to the big shin-dig in honor of Tim, in January 2021.

Thanks Tim- For everything.

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