25 East Banks Street, Chicago
[25 East Banks Street, Chicago (1889) Charles M. Palmer, architect /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
25 East Banks Street, at the southwest corner of Astor, was one of five houses built all in a row. Designed by architect Charles M. Palmer for real estate developer Potter Palmer, the house was the largest of the group, and was given the prominent corner location.
[25 E. Banks Street, Chicago /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
In the late teens and into the mid-1920s the owner/occupant was one of Chicago's preeminent architects, Ernest R. Graham. Senior partner in the firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, Graham became a master of classical revival styling while working under the influential "make no small plans" classicist Daniel Burnham. Graham was Burnham's right-hand-man during the design and construction of Chicago's World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, and after Burnham's death in 1912, Graham and company became the successor firm of the Greco/Roman heritage that made Burnham famous. Continuing in the traditions of his mentor in more ways than one, the reconnoitered office remained an architectural powerhouse which made Graham a wealthy man.
[Ernest R. Graham House, 25 E. Bamks Street /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
When he died in 1925, the architect left the house to his wife and an endowment of $1.5 million to the American School of Fine Arts. He had begun planning the school for scholarly research a decade before, and left two cousins in charge of the administrative end of things, while three trustees had oversight of the trust that would fund the operation. One of the trustees was architect Charles Murphy. The young, up-and-coming architect worked in the Graham firm and his relationship with Graham was almost identical to the mentor/pupil relationship that Graham had once shared with Daniel Burnham. The school never got off the ground, and after having outlived the cousins and the other two trustees, Murphy used the legacy to create the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
The house made headlines in 2007 when JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon listed the property for $13.5 million. He had purchased the house in 1999 for a not-so-shabby $4.2 million and supposedly put another million or two into extensive renovations. Then after economy collapsed in September of 2008 and the big banks got their bailout money, Dimon was in the headlines again, this time for one of those controversial multi-million dollar bonus compensation payouts. The house sat on the market, and the price was reduced to $9.5 million in early 2010. It was snapped-up later that year by Chicago multi-millionaire and energy wizard Michael Polsky for $6.5 million, in what was considered by some, to be a real bargain.
See the other four houses at: Potter Palmer Houses, Astor Street, Chicago; and a few Graham, Anderson, Probst & White projects at the: Wrigley Building; Civic Opera Building, Chicago; Pittsfield Building and John G. Shedd Aquarium.