Cyrus McCormick Mansion
Life Span: 1879-1954
Location: 135 Rush (675 N. Rush), Rush and Erie Streets
Chicago Tribune, August 22, 1915
The Chauncey McCormick are moving in this autumn to the house in Rush street that the Higginsons occupled for three years, the old William McCormick home where Chauncey McCormick was born. He has much sentiment for and many associations with the house, which is in a neighborhood which might properly be called McCormickville, as Mrs. Cyrus Mc-
Cormick, the R. Hall McCormicks, the Cyrus H. McCormicks, the Robert H. McCormicks, the Hamilton McCormicks, and Mrs. Emmons Blaine (nee McCormick) all live within a stone’s throw. It is “the return of the native.”
Chicago Tribune, May 15, 1949
Dear Tribune Readers: Instead of printing a letter from Martha Freeman Esmond, your editor is using the space today to tell you of the upheavals on the near north side. They make old residents feel like repeating the words of the hymn: “Change and decay in all around I see.”
Crossing Rush st. at Huron st one views a melancholy sight. The square red brick house occupied for years by the late Mrs. William Blair is down, its site marked only by a flat surface of rubble. still standing is its handsome iron fence, which was always noteworthy. Shrubbery lines this fence, and the spreading ash tree adds a note of green. But soon a business block will rise here, mute witness to the disagreeable truth that this no longer is a residence section.
Diagonally across the street, the north side of the yard in which the Cyrus H. McCormick mansion stands is being excavated. A great red machine has been biting into the ground for days and these gargantuan mouthfuls have now made a cavity which will be the basement of the 5 and 10 cent store we are told will occupy this corner. What will be the fate of the south half of the lot-Rush and Erie sts. -is not yet revealed, but the porte-cochere of the house has been taken down, so the great brown
stone mansion begins to look rather sad.
The Cyrus H. McCormick mansion was four years in building, says Thomas E. Tallmadge, in his valuable work, “Architecture in Old Chicago.” Begun in 1875, lt was not occupied until 1879. Its cupola and mansard roof betray the fact that it was built in the 70s, and its brown, stone emphasizes this, for that was the favored building material of that decade, It was not a particularly happy choice, for it chips off easily.
This great mansion, second in interest only to the Potter Palmer castle, has been the scene of many notable society events.
- In that mansion used to be
But the wife of the reaper magnate, whose name before her marriage was Nettie Fowler, was more than a mere society leader. She dressed simply and after the death of her husband lived quietly, attracting to the somber old house missionaries and educators, for she gave enormous sums to the work of Christian missions abroad and in the United States. In the library hung a portrait of its mistress, painted by G. P. A. Healy, depicting her as a beautiful young hoop skirted. matron. Those who saw her in her old age discerned in her serene countenance traces of the beauty which had been hers. It was sometimes said that she looked like a madonna grown old. Mme. McCormick, as she was called in the later years of her life, died in 1923 and the house has been little occupied since then.
The house at 701 Rush st. will soon be torn down. This fine home was built by Henry W. King, of Browning, King, & Co. Mr. King, sometimes called the mayor of Rush st., had made his money in clothing, and Mrs. King, known for her wit, used to say, looking across the street at the McCormick mansion: “We sew and they reap.” The woodwork in the King house is beautiful and the basement kitchen has been transformed into a charming studio apartment by Jo Mead and Associates, With the King house, will go the two houses next north, 711 and 713 Rush st., for all are to be demolished to make way for a parking lot. The house numbered 711 was built by Cyrus H. Adams Sr., father of Cyrus H. Adams who was a nephew of the reaper magnate. The brown stone front house, 713, was the home of William G. McCormick, father of Chauncey McCormick, president of the Art institute. So it is small wonder that Rush st., in its heyday, was known as McCormickville.
With these residences going rapidly, lovers of old houses will want to walk along this thorofare, known sometimes as “quaint little Rush st..” to see what is left of a once fashionable section which vied with Prairie av, in housing the elite of Chicago.
Cyrus McCormick Mansion
Photographer: Charles W. Cushman
September 16, 1948
Cyrus McCormick Mansion
135 Rush street.
Robinson Fire Insurance Map
Rand McNally Bird’s Eye Views of Chicago, 1893
The McCormick Mansion. Standing in the center of large and tastefully ornamented grounds, at the southeast corner of Huron and Rush streets, is the celebrated home of Mrs. Nettie F. McCormick, widow of the late Cyrus H. McCormick, the millionaire above mentioned. This has always been a hospitable and representative Presbyterian home, where many successful plans of education and charity have had their origin.