These Old Houses at South Shore Public Library

These Old HousesAn Introduction to Chicago’s Vernacular Residential Architecture

Tuesday, October 17, 5:30 - 7:30 pm At the South Shore Public Library, 2nd Floor Meeting Room 2505 E. 73rd St. (at Exchange) Free!

Photo by Eric Allix Rogers

LivingRoom Realty is pleased to present a panel discussion about the historic houses that make Chicago’s neighborhoods great.

Chicago is known for its masterpiece buildings by Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mies van der Rohe. But the city’s architectural pedigree isn’t limited to the Loop. The humble houses built by generations of anonymous Chicagoans across the city have an even greater impact on our day-to-day lives, and tell the history of the city and its people.

From worker’s cottages to bungalows, two-flats to greystones, this event is an introduction to the vernacular architecture that makes Chicago, Chicago. Architectural historian Elizabeth Blasius will discuss some of the city’s most iconic building types, their history, features, and neighborhoods where they can be found. We’ll also have Matt Cole, of Neighborhood Housing Service’s Chicago Greystone & Vintage Home Program to talk about the nuts and bolts of caring for and fixing up an old Chicago house. Finally, Susannah Ribstein, LivingRoom broker and architectural historian, will go over some things to look for and think about when buying or selling one of these Chicago houses.

Across the city, Chicago is losing its historic vernacular housing to the pressure of new development or to disinvestment, permanently changing the texture of our neighborhoods. Old homes are often well-built with quality materials no longer available, so they can be adapted to modern living for less cost and environmental impact than building new.

LivingRoom is particularly pleased to bring this event to South Shore, a neighborhood known for its high-quality residential architecture. The panel discussion will specifically look at the housing types represented in South Shore to help residents care for and appreciate their homes.

Whether you’re thinking about buying a home or not, this event is for all Chicagoans who want to know more about the city’s built environment and how to celebrate and care for it.

Please RSVP to

Participant Bios

Elizabeth Blasius is a Chicago-based architectural historian and heritage conservationist.  Ms. Blasius has worked extensively in the private sector consulting clients on following the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as well as conducting traditional research on buildings and neighborhoods for National Register of Historic Places nominations, historic structure reports, printed publications and films.  She sits on the boards of the Recent Past Preservation Network, The Society of Architectural Historians Chicago Chapter, and Logan Square Preservation.

Matt Cole joined Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago in 2006 and over the past 11 years has played strategic roles in NHS’s Neighborhood Strategy, Redevelopment Corporation, and Construction Services divisions.  As NHS’ Program & Grant Administrator, Mr. Cole currently helps facilitate the implementation of more than $5 million in public and private programs that support homeownership and residential building rehab in Chicago.  He is also responsible for managing NHS’ Chicago Greystone & Vintage Home Program, a historic preservation and cultural heritage-based education and technical assistance program aimed at encouraging reinvestment in vintage homes on Chicago’s South and West Side.  Prior to joining NHS, Mr. Cole was a planning and development consultant for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where he worked on community-based reuse strategies for Superfund, brownfield, and abandoned mining sites.  Mr. Cole received his Master Degree in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia. More information about the Greystone & Vintage Home Program here.

Susannah Ribstein is a broker with LivingRoom Realty. She studied art and architectural history at the University of Chicago and has an MS in Historic Preservation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Prior to becoming a real estate broker, she worked in the art world as a gallery manager and non-profit director. She lives in South Shore.