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Francis J. Dewes Mansion (1896)

NRHP #73000694


Wealthy German immigrants, including Wacker, Leight, Gaetner, Deever, and Schlosser, constructed luxurious mansions east of Clark Street in Chicago's Lincoln Park. Francis Dewes, a Chicago brewer and millionaire, built the most elaborate home in the Lincoln Park still standing - Dewes Mansion at 503 West Wrightwood Avenue.


Architects Adolph Cudell and Arthur Hercz designed the Dewes mansion, and it was completed in 1896. Hercz was originally from Hungary, and Cudell was no stranger to building grand residences for Chicago's wealthy elite. In 1879 Cudell also designed the Rush Street mansion of prominent businessman Cyrus Hall McCormick.


The Dewes mansion was built for Francis J. Dewes, a brewer. Dewes was born in Prusia in 1845, the son of a brewer and member of the German parliament. In 1868 Francis Dewes emigrated to Chicago and found employment as a bookkeeper for established brewing companies such as Rehm and Bartholomae and the Busch and Brand Brewing Company. He rose through the ranks, and in 1882 he founded his own successful brewing firm. His mansion was built to reflect his own Prussian background and European tastes.


Taken as a whole, the building is an unusual example of a German inspired style, influenced by the neo-Baroque architecture of Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris at the end of the nineteenth century. The exterior of this lavish gray-stone is decorated with carved stonework and ornamental cornices and lintels. The entrance to the mansion is flanked by caryatids, tall female figures acting as columns, supporting a balcony over the doorway. The house is now used for wedding receptions, parties, and other private events.


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Taken on July 16, 2008