[graphic header] Chicago: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary, National Park Service

James Charnley House
Charnley House, exterior
Photo courtesy of Cervin Robinson.

Built in 1892, the James Charnley House has been widely recognized internationally for over half a century as an important workof modern architecture. It is one of the few major residential commissions realized by Louis Sullivan. The house is also a benchmark in the early development of Frank Lloyd Wright, who as a draftsman and designer in Sullivan's office contributed significantly to the design. The house is perhaps the only surviving example of a design to which both Sullivan and Wright made substantial contributions.

Located in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood, the Charnley house is composed horizontally. An ashlar gray limestone base extends over the raised basement to the sill line of the main floor. Courses of yellow Roman brick extend from that base to the roofline. A projecting wooden balcony sits in the recessed center bay of the second and third floors. An addition was constructed on the south side of the house in 1927. Decorative elements throughout the interior reflect work characteristic of Sullivan. Oak panels sheath the entrance foyer, leading into a light-filled hall that rises to the skylight roof. Quartersawn oak is used in most of the primary spaces, including floors and stairways.

Currently, the Charnley House is the national headquarters of the Society of Architectural Historians. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998.

The James Charnley House is located at 1365 N. Astor St. Tours are offered year-round on Wednesdays at 12:00pm (45 minutes, free of charge). Extended tours are offered Saturdays at 10:00am, for a fee, which last 70 minutes. From April 1 to November 30, an additional tour is offered Saturdays at 12:00pm. For further information, call 312-915-0105. Arrangements for group tours should be made in advance by calling 312-573-1365.


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