Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wood-Maxey-Boyd House

Wood-Maxey-Boyd House..
Address: 2801 S. Prairie Avenue
Year Built: 1885
Architect: John C. Cochrane
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: October 1, 2003..

This Queen Anne-style mansion built for lumberman George E. Wood in 1885.. The house was once part of "Lower Prairie Avenue," a section of the City's most prestigious 19th-century residential street between 26th and 30th Streets that was almost completely redeveloped under urban renewal efforts in the 1950s and 60s.. The house's current owner, Dr. Alva Maxey-Boyd, bought the house with her husband, Charles Boyd, in 1948, and it was through their decades-long efforts that the house survives today.


Adrienne said...

I knew Alva, and your post of 2010 is incorrect, as she died in 2008. It was a marvelous house to visit. She and her husband, Charles Boyd, an attorney, bought it from the daughter of the original owner, complete with the original Victorian furniture. When they moved in, the roof leaked and she said that they had pots and pans "everywhere." They restored all of the plaster walls. Her husband was a lawyer, who took on the City and the first Mayor Daley in order to keep their house from being torn down in the interest of "urban renewal." The other Victorian mansions on S Prairie were burned down. The City set fire to the house next door and Alva and Charles used their garden hoses to wet their own roof. Firemen stood by and did nothing. After all, she and her husband were African-American and were pioneers. She taught at U Chicago, she was a community organizer and she was educated. I met her when she was in her nineties; she had jet black hair (she dyed it herself) because she "didn't want any white hair!" I, of course, had graying/white hair (40 years younger) and she told me to "dye it." I introduced her to Starbucks and we sat in her front room, on Victorian furniture, with our feet on a low period table, and drank frappucinos. She was amazing. The house, which she wanted to be taken over as a landmark by the Chicago History Museum, was sold summer 2011 to a New Yorker who intend to restore it and replace all of the old systems. The wonderful interior woodwork is rich with a carved "pineapple" theme, as is in the beautiful stained glass. On the third floor was the original billiards room; the table is still there.

kbylsma said...

Adrienne, thanks for your comment, which was quite interesting. That was originally my Great Grandfather's (George E. Wood)home. My mother said that one time when she was in Chicago she just went up and knocked on the front door and told Alva who she was. Mom said Alva was so sweet, she invited her in and took her on a tour of the mansion. I wish I could have bought it, but I live in California. What would I do with a mansion in Chicago? I'm glad that somebody bought it who can continue the restoration.

Anonymous said...

Wow...it was your grand dad's house! I also have to correct my statement - Alva died in 2009. She had been transferred to the Admiral senior citizen housing on Foster Avenue. If you've been up this way, you know that original building was torn down and a huge high rise, with very expensive entrance fees, replaced the old building and opened in the summer of 2012. This one is called the New Admiral at the Lake. From my conversations with Alva, I would bet that she'd look at this giant building and laugh. She was so smart; she really must have been a force to contend with in her prime.