1328 W. Sherwin Avenue
Original Owner: J. Benjamin Moulton
The Moulton House was designed by the Prairie School architect Walter Burley Griffin in 1908. Griffin had worked for architect Frank Lloyd Wright for five years as his chief associate before he established his own practice in 1906. J. Benjamin Moulton, an auditor, commissioned Griffin to design his home and it was built by contractors: Henry Beutler and Evan D. Evans at a cost of $6,000.
The house is a perfect example of Prairie School architecture -- a horizontally oriented design with wide, projecting eaves that cantilever out from the body of the house, ribbons of casement windows that are a part of the walls, a low-pitched, pyramidal roof, and a low, substantial, yet simple, chimney.
Unfortunately, the house has been considerably altered over the past 104 years. When the current owners (2000) purchased the house in 1998, they began an extensive renovation process with the goal being a comprehensive, sympathetic restoration. Using old photographs and other research materials, by 2000, they had completed 75% of the first floor restoration.
As you enter the home, take note of the unusually open floor plan. The living room flows into the porch and dining room without barrier. The fireplace is not original, but the homeowners plan (2000) to rebuild Griffin's design based on a vintage photograph. Much of the original woodwork on the first floor was taken out by a previous owner, perhaps in an effort to update the home. It has now (2000) been replaced with exact reproductions of the originals. Throughout the house, you will find Arts and Crafts furnishings that compliment and harmonize with the setting.
29th Annual House Tour, pages 18 & 19
Current owner, Betsy Downs is an architect who purchased this house in 1998; she has completed several restoration projects with the goal of bringing the house back to its original condition while including functional modernizations of the kitchen and fireplace.
The house was designed by the Prairie School architect Walter Burley Griffin in 1908 for J. Benjamin Moulton, an auditor. Moulton lived in it for three years, and in 1911 sold the house to Jules N. Raymond. A manufacturer, he lived here with his wife and daughter until 1914. A picture of the house appeared on the front page of the Saturday, October 31, 1914, Chicago Tribune in two stories on page 13. The first article is a photo essay designed to accompany the second. The first article Poisoned Manufacturer and Affinity Flat: Wife's Bungalow and Missing Daughter, and the second article is Raymond's Drinking Water May Have Absorbed Arsenic, It Is Said. The second article told a haunting story about a wife who soaked arsenic off fly paper and poisoned her husband. He had her committed to an insane asylum, but she was found to be sane and released. After that the house was sold to a Thomas W. Proctor.
Several subsequent owners did various renovations to the home, including removing the original woodwork, door hardware, lighting, planters, and changing interior finishes. Structurally, however, only minor modifications were made. The current owner, Betsy Downs, has worked with a woodworker to restore the house to its original appearance. Although no original plans have been located, photographs from a 1910 article in Architectural Record show the original living and dining rooms and were the basis for the restorations.
Renovation Projects listed in 29th Annual House Tour Booklet, page 19
Removing non-original wall coverings and carpet; refinishing quarter sawn oak floors where possible.
Stripping wood trim; staining new old old wood to match.
Removing non-original wall segments; removing crown molding, drapery pockets, and strip lighting.
Removing damaged horse hair plaster and re-plastering the first floor walls and ceilings.
Removing non-original terracotta fireplace and installing a gas insert.
Building new wood beams and display cases, replacing missing trim.
Restoring period lighting, building radiator covers that are sympathetic to the original design.
Re-plastering and painting bedrooms, refinishing or replacing bedroom floors.
Replacing and painting exterior stucco, painting exterior wood.
Replacing old sidewalks with pavers.
Architect: Griffin, Walter Burley
Community: Rogers Park (01)
Address: 1328 W. Sherwin Avenue
Constructed: Started in 07/01/1908
Style: Prairie School
Type: Single-Family Residence
Color Code: Orange
National Register? N
Building Details: Prairie School