Delightfully modern Beverly: Postwar modernism found a home in leafy old neighborhood

January 26, 2011

The city's Beverly neighborhood, tucked away on the far Southwest Side, is probably best known for its early 20th century architecture--of which there is plenty.

But as of late, I've been taken by the modernist architecture that quietly slipped into community during the 1950s and 1960s. It's not the stuff of Mies van der Rohe, yet the buildings are worth noticing if only because the unsung architects who designed them managed to take the highbrow notions of modernism and boil them down into the everyday, ordinary and commerically functioning buildings--professional buildings, law offices, small apartment buildings and the like--while retaining just enough cool to keep things interesting. 

Other older neighborhoods have edges that went modern in the postwar years, such as South Shore, Chatham and West Ridge.What's striking about Beverly is that very little of the prewar or postwar stuff has been demolished or even drastically altered. So the contrasts between the two styles are as evident now as in, say, 1960.  And there is a pretty good amount of postwar architecture to see. Drive down Western Avenue between 95th and 107th and there are scores of these buildings. Some slightly lean toward Googie, while others, like the dental offices at 10601 S. Western in the next photo are kind of special:

Look at the bottom right of the photo below and check out the modernist font of the bronze numerals they used to to make up the address of the building above:

This residential building is a personal favorite. On the right side, the building is a sober as a Sunday School teacher, while the left side has been out all night at the Bauhaus Bar Grill. And split-personality theme is also evident in that traditional gabled overhang jutting from an otherwise modernist entry.

And what's not to like about the arched eyebrows hanging over the second-story windows of these law offices at 101st and Western:

POSTSCRIPT: Many thanks to you readers for sending your answers to yesterday's "Think You Know Chicago?" blogpost.  Keep em coming!  I'll have the answers tomorrow.