Chicago Tribune, November 2, 1882
At No. 1827 Prairie avenue, there is now rapidly approaching completion of one of then most tasteful, rich, and expensive residences that has ever been erected here, and one that will compare with if not excel the fine residences recently erected in New York, of which so much has been said in the Eastern press. This home was examined yesterday by a Tribune reporter, the details beng explained to him by Mr. T. V. Wadskier, who is the architect. The house was erected by Mr. J. W. Doane, the well-known importer, who seems to have had in view not only obtaining a handsome home, but also a comfortable one, and he seems to have succeeded in both. The architect has followed the gothic of the modern style, and he has produced results that are exceedingly artistic in taste and design.
To give one an idea of the structure it should be stated that it has a frontage of sixty-four feet and a depth on ninety-four. It has three stories and a basement. The front and sides are of Lake Superior sandstone, hammer-dressed across the grain, and laid in their natural bed, while the rear is of the finest pressed brick. An innovation has been made in the construction, which is attractive and pleasing. In all the large residences heretofore constructed in this city it has been the custom to place the entrance in the centre of the hiuse, leaving rooms upon either side of a hall. This has been changed here. The hallway is placed at the north end of the building, and is approached by New York brownstone steps sixteen feet wide. The outer door once opened, the visitor stands in a beautiful and rich vestibule. It is floored and wainscoted with imported marble. The massive centre tile in the floor is a beautiful block of varicolored marble from Herculaneum, bordered with Spanish and Italian marbles. These are very highly polished, and seem almost too valuable to be tread upon. Above the wainscoting the walls, as well as the ceiling, are finished in richly-paneled oak. The vestibule-door is of oak and stained glass, with stained glass transom over it in a quaint and ancient design.
1827 S. Prairie
Leaving the first floor for a moment, a glance through the basement shows that comfort was studied as well for the servants as the owner. The kitchen, servants’ dining-room, ice-house, laundry, and storeroom fill up its space. The laundry is probably the most complete ever put is a private dwelling, It is supplied with steam boilers, steam drying racks, etc., steam being furnished from an engine and boilers in the barn in the rear, and separate from that used in heating the house. One of the features of the dwelling is that it will be lighted by electricity, the Edison incandescent light being used.
Going uo again on to the first floor the visitor, after leaving the vestibule, finds himself in an entrance hall, which is a large room of itself, being eighteen and a half feet long by twelve and a half feet wide. It opens into a main hall thirty and a half feet long and twenty-one feet wide, octagonal in shape. The hall is separated from the stairway hall by a series of oak arches, supported upon oaken columns, decorated with carved caps. The stair hall itself is twenty-five feet long and sixteen feet wide. Looking to the left, or north side of the building, while standing in the stairway hall, one notices a pleasant break above the first flight leading to the second story, in the shape of a wide oaken balcony, backed by three stained glass and prism windows of an original design, The ceiling of these halls is finished in richly elaborated and carved panels of oak. In the centre of the ceiling of the main hall is a galleried well-hone nine feet wide and sixteen feet long, which reveals a stained glass dome in the ceiling of the third story. The glass work is very beautiful. The dome of superb coloring will shine out more brilliantly at night; as it will be lighted from behind by the electric lights.
The Main Hall Entryway, with stairway leading to the second story.
Stepping from the reception-room, going south, one enters the parlor, which has an entrance from the main hall also. The parlor is finished like the reception-room. From the top of the marquetry friezes in the two rooms there spring large coves, which are richly decorated.
The Library is without exception the richest room of its kind in the city. San Domingo mahogany has been freely used, a wood seldom employed because of its cost, the authorities of the island allowing no trees to be cut, and those that are chopped down are exported by stealth if at all. The paneled frieze borders about the ceiling and walls, bookcases, mantel, etc., are all of this rich, dark wood, most elaborately and daintily carved. The mahogany wainscoting is three and a half feet high, richly paneled and carved, while the wall above is frescoed in appropriate figures and coloring in original designs, the ceiling being treated in a similar manner. The dining-room has a length of thirty feet and a width of twenty-one. It is octagonal. In the rear are three more beautifully stained-glass windows of mammoth size. There is a large recess sideboard on the north side of the room extending to the ceiling. Directly opposite is a handsomely carved mantel and fireplace, with a beveled plate-glass mirror above. The border around the walls and ceiling are all of dark oak, which is also the wood used in the furniture. These are the butler’s pantry, silver-vault, storeroom, etc., all complete in every detail.
In the northeast corner of this floor is another large room, to be used as a smoking-room, wainscoted in paneled cherry elaborately carved, with cabinets for cigars, etc. It has direct communication with the butler’s pantry. There is also an elaborately-carved wooden mantel. Off from the rear of the main hall is the elevator shaft, which leads from the basement to the third story. There is a rear stairway from basement to attic.
Under the landing of the main stairway there is a lavatory and coat-room, constructed entirely of paneled and carved cherry. The floors of the halls, smoking and dining rooms are inlaid in rich designs; they are of oak, formed in crossing grains, with a birder of mixed woods.
Ascending the main stairway, which is six feet wide, one is landed upon the balcony above mentioned, which is backed by the three stained-glass windows.
The second story reached, one enters an octagonal-shaped hall similar to the one below. Here, also, there is an oaken archway, supported as thise below, which separates the stairs from the main hall. All the stairways and halls are wainscoted in paneled oak. There are seven chambers on this floor, and toilet and bathrooms, the latter being wainscoted with Minton tile. All the chambers are finished in hard woods, maple, mahogany, birch, butternut, cherry, and ash being used, no two rooms being finished alike. The ceilings and walls are richly frescoed.
The third story hall is lighted by the large stained glass dome. The entire front of this floor is given up to a room for dancing. It is twenty-two feet wide, the ceiling being sixteen feet high. It is wainscoted in decorated woods and richly frescoed. The billiard-room is on the south side of the hall, twenty-two feet wide. It is wainscoted in paneled cherry, with a handsome fireplace and mantel. There is also a guests’ room on this floor, with tapestried walls in light blue. Then there are the servants’ sleeping-rooms, bath-rooms, lavatories, etc.
In sewerage, plumbing, lighting, and ventilation the most oractical and newest scientific methods have been followedm and all the wotk has been done by Chicago artists and artisans.
John W. Doane’s residence at 1827 S. Prairie was among the largest on the street. It featured such amenities as stained-glass windows designed by John LaForge. The Theodore V. Wadskier designed house was built in 1882.
Mr. Doane was one of the founders of the Western Edison Light Company, which is now part of ComEd.
When the home opened officially in November 1882, it was Mr. and Mrs. Doane’s 25th wedding anniversary. Guests were treated to the first use of electric lights in a residence, powered by a generator in the coach house.
By 1913 the house was converted into offices for the Radford Architectural Company until a fire in 1927 seriously damaged the building.