Terra Cotta Manufactured
We have had several postings that mention the amazingly, moldable building material
known as terra cotta. This house just happens to have been built by Henry Rohkam, a founder of one of the country's leading terra-cotta manufacturers, the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company.
Now part of a four building Chicago historic district, the home with its elaborate stepped
gables and brick corbeling, has the only terra-cotta manufactured fence that I've ever seen. Designed by Theodore Karls in 1887, the house has a sad personal history attached to it. Rohkam died in the home in 1896 followed by the death of his 17-year-old son in 1902. Karls committed suicide in his office in 1895, supposedly because of debt and business deals gone bad.
Miraculously the 4,500-square-foot home survived through the years pretty much intact.
Unlike a lot of old, large houses it was never chopped-up into smaller apartment units and was lovingly restored in 1996. The fence, which runs past the Rohkams to the adjoining properties hasn't fared as well. But some missing segments revealed a little bit of history when I found a Northwetern model number stamped into a 123-year-old fired, clay block.