Chalfonte (Chicago) Apartments, National Register of Historic Places

The Chalfonte Apartment, 1110-12 E. Armour Boulevard, is a five-story, multi-family residential building that was constructed in 1908-09. The architect for the neo-classical revival building was Matt O’Connell. The ornamented front façade of the building is gray rusticated limestone ashlars, the lower two floors are faced with dressed limestone ashlars, also light gray in color, and buff colored brick veneers the upper stores. There are decorative details of wood, stone, and pressed metal. The side and rear facades consist of red brick, laid in common bond, above a limestone rubble foundation.

The most important decorative features of the building are the columns and piers which outline the second and forth bays of the primary façade. The four engaged, fluted wood columns, extending from the third through the fifth floors, have molded bases and capitals generally characteristic of the Roma Doric order, with the addition of an egg and dart molding below the abacuses. Two of the stone piers, which flank these bays at the first and second story levels, are engaged and two are freestanding.

The front façade features an ornamental entablature between the second and third floors, and one just below the roof. Both return slightly on the side facades. The lower masonry entablature has a classical frieze in which triglyphs with gattae alternate with metopes. The cornice is finished with a torus molding enriched with a by leaf garland. The upper entablature of painted pressed metal, is similar to that below, but somewhat more elaborate. Denticulated bands adorn both frieze and cornice, with egg and dart moldings repeated around the metopes. Paired brackets above the triglyphs alternate with coffered panels on the soffit of the cornice; a guilloche-type molding trims the cornice edge.

Each floor of the building is evenly divided from north to south into two apartments. Each apartment contains foyer, living room, dining room, kitchen, pantry, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, front and rear porches. The bedroom and bath located behind the kitchen were originally designed as quarters for hired help. The oak columns, pilaster, mantelpieces, and ceiling beams of the apartments repeat the Classical Revival motifs of the building’s façade. The porches of the four upper floors were enclosed with pressed metal balustrades and casement windows at an unknown date.

Originally called the Chicago Apartments, the building was renamed around 1935. “The Chalfonte” was carved over the front entranceway.

The Chalfonte was possibly the first multi-family building constructed on Armour Boulevard. Erected in 1909, it was the harbinger of changing conditions along the thoroughfare as, in the twenties and thirties, single-family residences gave way to apartments and hotels of distinction. In 1909 The Chalfonte provided luxurious living for its tenants, in apartments equipped with modern conveniences. A newspaper article announcing the imminent erection of the building, stressed the appointments and equipment, which would be available to the residents in each units. These included such things as china closets, buffets, iceboxes, and bookcases. Also mentioned were the “automatic electric elevator” and the internal telephone and buzzer systems that secured the front door. A retrospective article of later years pointed out that the “Chicago Flats,” when built, was publicized as containing “The first apartment suites in Kansas City with two baths.”

The builder, owner, and manager of the Chicago Apartments was Herman Streicher, in the real estate business during the first decade of the twentieth century and later the president of a retail jewelry company. Streicher chose Matthew (often called Matt) O’Connell as his architect.