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Annals of Architecture: An SOM House for Lease and Milwaukee’s Exton Apartments

Thanks to Lee Bey, I now know that I can lease an early Skidmore Owings Merrill house in Lake County. Coming up with the $1.6 million for restoration could be tricky, though. Plus: an art deco gem in Milwaukee.

Lee Bey, long one of the most keen architectural observers in the city, has a great find: a house from Skidmore & Owings’s first year (1936), before they became Skidmore Owings & Merrill, for lease in Mettawa. It’s yours for the cost of restoration, and while you can’t put a price on history, the restoration would be pretty expensive. The Daily Herald has a photo gallery of the interior in its prime.


Via katherine of chicago, who is always finding interesting architecture, an art deco gem in Milwaukee I’d never heard of: the Exton Apartments (photo by ChicagoGeek):

Exton Apartments Milwaukee

I second the commenter who said “I never would have guessed the 1930s.” It’s the favorite hometown building of the Where Blog’s Brendan Crain (which is back online, by the way, and always worth reading). The interior follows the curves of the exterior, and the period. Here’s a picture of the decoration on the ceiling of the entrance.


Did I mention you should be reading Where?

New York has seen countless cultural icons rise and fall. The loss of a cherished community hub is nothing new here, and while it’s easy to proclaim the death of the city as we watch individual sites crumble and fade, to do so inevitably robs us of some amount of time in which we could be enjoying the city as it is. While the ‘right to the city’ is well-discussed, we too often forget that we are not owed anything by the city. We are welcome to take part in it, but we can expect nothing more of it than what it happens to be. The city, as Baudelaire wrote, “changes shape, alas, faster than a mortal’s heart.”


Speaking of apartments, I found my dream condo: two bedrooms, right on the Chicago River (buy now, and you might be able to go swimming in a couple decades), within walking distance of the Old Town School. And by “dream” I mean “costs less than a hundred grand in part because the wallpaper is peeling off the walls.” (My dreams are modest; actually, I don’t have dreams when it comes to living arrangements, more like modest aspirations.)

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