Joseph Matteson Residence, Pension Francais
Life Span: 1850-1868
Location: South Water Street and Michigan Ave
Chicago Evening Post, May 29, 1868
The History of an Old House.
The old two-story and a half brick dwelling on the corner of South Water street and Michigan avenue, opposite the Richmond House, used lately in one part as a restaurant, known as the “Pension Francais.” and which belonged to the heirs of Joseph Matteson, has just been torn down and the foundation of a new block of stores laid in its place. The house was built in 1850, for a residence, by the late Joseph Matteson, who was one of the earliest settlers of Chicago, he removing from State street, on which commerce was fast encroaching. Desiring a permanent residence, where he would not be disturbed by business innovations, he selected this then retired spot, which was at that day as much out of town as Hyde Park is at present, and considered one of the finest residence localities in the city. At that time, but few dwellings were up to within a few hundred feet of the door, one or two frame dwellings intervening. The owner of the property across the avenue had built a brush dam to prevent the encroachment of the lake. His right was afterwards purchased by the railroad company. The house was one of the first brick edifices in the neighborhood, and then considered palatial, and was occupied by Mr. Matteson up to the time of his death, passing into the hands of various other tenants at different times, but still remaining in the family. Mr. D. J. Lake, the present Cashier of the Manufacturer’s National Bank, was then book-keeper for Mr. M. in the iron trade, and was married in the old house.
Mr. Lake, who is trustee of the Matteson estate, is now erecting for the heirs a block of two stores, five stories each in height, of pressed brick, with stone trimmings, 24×130 feet each, which will cost about $25,000 each, and will be a fine addition to that part of the city, which the roar of business has long since unfitted for residence purposes.
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