Always looking to “re-discover” overlooked urban architecture, I’m sure I can be really irritating to other people (especially my wife) in the family car as I suddenly pull over, or constantly make unexpected u-turns while driving through town.
In “re-discovering” this house, I had driven past it many times while doing urban archaeology in Highland Park. Though the house had obviously been remodeled since it was built there were a few things that struck me. Though I have heard it said about John Van Bergen that his architecture has no individual character, I think this is adequate proof that it has qualities that are very distinct, if subtle.
What struck me first was the chimney rising from the roof. It had Van Bergen written all over it, again – however subtle! Second, was the way this building was skillfully sited on its small ravine lot.
So I took notes, and as other things came up over the last year, my notes got buried. Finally uncovering my notes a few weeks ago, I sent the address over to Larry Shure of the Highland Park Department of Community Development. Larry has been extremely helpful to me in the past as he is an expert at wading through the quagmire of the Highland Park street numbering system – which has changed a number of times over the years, to everyone’s confusion.
Surprising to me, Larry said that this address did show in a survey as a Van Bergen, and forwarded me the permit information.
The house was built for Mrs. Delia Fricke in 1928. The original address was 803 St. Johns.