James Charnley House

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James Charnley House
James Charnley Residence HABS ILL,16-CHIG,12-1.jpg
The original symmetrical facade as it appeared in 1892 - the adjacent building was later demolished
James Charnley House is located in Central Chicago
James Charnley House
James Charnley House is located in Illinois
James Charnley House
James Charnley House is located in the United States
James Charnley House
Location1365 N. Astor Street, Chicago, Illinois
Coordinates41°54′27.54″N 87°37′39.67″W / 41.9076500°N 87.6276861°W / 41.9076500; -87.6276861Coordinates: 41°54′27.54″N 87°37′39.67″W / 41.9076500°N 87.6276861°W / 41.9076500; -87.6276861
ArchitectLouis Sullivan
NRHP reference No.70000232[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPApril 17, 1970[1]
Designated NHLAugust 6, 1998[4]
Designated CLAugust 20, 1972[3]
An additional bay was added on the right side after the demolition of the adjacent building

The James Charnley Residence, also known as the Charnley-Persky House, is a historic house museum at 1365 North Astor Street in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. Built in 1892, it is one of the few surviving residential works of Louis Sullivan.

The house is owned and operated as a museum and organization headquarters by The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH).[5] It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998,[4] and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The Charnley Residence is located in Chicago's Gold Coast north of the commercial downtown, at the southeast corner of North Astor Street and East Schiller Street. It is three stories in height, with a raised basement of stone and 2+12 stories of largely austere brickwork. The facade is divided into three parts, the center portion housing the main entrance in a stone surround flanked by paired sash windows. Above it is a projecting ornate wooden balcony that obscures the fact that the wall behind it is recessed. The flanking sections each have single sash windows set on large expanses of brick, in deep rectangular openings with splayed soldier brick lintels. The third level is separated from the lower levels by a stone stringcourse, and has two deeply recessed square windows in each section.[6]

The interior of the house is a marked contrast to its relatively plain exterior. It has high-quality woodwork throughout, with builtin bookcases featuring doors with glass of varying shapes and sizes. The main library features a fireplace of African rose marble, and the dining room has extensive use of mahogany, a favorite wood of Louis Sullivan's.[6]


The house was completed in 1892 for Charnley, a Chicago lumberman who lived in the house with his family for about a decade.[5] It is a distinctive and original design of Sullivan's, in which a modern aesthetic was brought to an essentially Classical symmetrical form. Charnley and Sullivan were mutual friends as Sullivan designed vacation homes for them also in Mississippi.

The building was later owned by members of the Waller family, who invested in real estate. The house was purchased by the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in 1986 and subsequently restored.[2] Seymour Persky purchased the house in 1995 and donated it to the SAH who renamed the building to the Charnley–Persky House to honor their benefactor.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 15, 2006.
  2. ^ a b Wolfe, Gerard R. (1996). Chicago: In and Around the Loop. New York, New York: McGraw=Hill. pp. 404–406. ISBN 0-07-071390-1.
  3. ^ "Charnley House". City of Chicago Dept. of Pl. and Devpmt., Landmarks Div. 2003. Archived from the original on June 13, 2008. Retrieved August 4, 2007.
  4. ^ a b "James Charnley House". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on January 3, 2008. Retrieved October 13, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c "Charnley–Persky House History". Charnley–Persky House Museum Website. Charnley–Persky House Museum Foundation. June 14, 2004. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
  6. ^ a b "NHL nomination for James Charnley House". National Park Service. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  • Historic American Buildings Survey HABS ILL,16-CHIG,12-
  • Richard Longstreth (ed.) 2004. The Charnley House: Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the Making of Chicago's Gold Coast, University of Chicago Press, 249 pages
  • Storrer, William Allin. The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion. University Of Chicago Press, 2006, ISBN 0-226-77621-2 (S.009)

External links[edit]