History of the Nickerson Mansion: 1879

Chicago Daily Tribune, July 27, 1879, page 16

Something New in Houses – A Fire-Proof Residence

A fire-proof residence is something of a novelty in this country. The new residence that Burling & Whitehouse, architects, are erecting for S. M. Nickerson, President of the First National Bank, will have this unique claim to attention. It will be, besides this notable as the largest private house in the city. In size it ranks both Mr. George M. Pullman’s house and that of Mr. Cyrus H. McCormick, which have been till now the Gog and Magog of house-architecture in this city. Mr. Nickerson’s house, which is up to the basement, stands on the northeast corner of Cass and Erie streets. The dimensions of the ground-plan are 102 × 50 feet. It will be three stories high, besides the basement. Bedford stone will be the material of the basement, and the superstructure will be of Ohio stone from the Amherst quarries. Columns of granite will support the front porch. No wood will appear anywhere about the exterior, to the great gratification of those lovers of the true, the good, and the beautiful whose eyes have been made sore by seeing wooden stoops and porches put on $25,000 and $50,000 houses. In too many Chicago houses expenditure seems to have run riot till the front stoop was reached when the easy step from the sublime to the ridiculous was made in wood. The interior of Mr. Nickerson’s house is rendered completely fire-proof by the same general methods of construction that were followed in the Singer building, now owned by Field & Leiter. The floors are laid on iron beams, between which brick arches are sprung. These arches are overlaid with cement. The handsome staircase that rises from the center of the main hall, opposite the front door, will be built of marble. Tile and stone will constitute most of the interior surfaces that are not decorated. The main floor will be divided into a hall 18 × 53, with a marble stairway in the centre, a parlor 18 × 22, a second parlor 18 × 23, a library 18 × 23, an art gallery 23 × 38, lighted from above, a dining room 18 × 30, smoking room 18 × 20, a gentleman’s reception-room 18 × 20. There will be on this floor two fire-proof vaults, a water elevator, and the kitchen and domestic offices. A novelty in the interior construction is to be the entire absence of plaster. There is to be no plaster laid on any walls. The entire surface will be marble, tile, ornamental woods, and hangings and tapestries.

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