Architect Paul Hansen designed this large, single-family home in 1908 for Peter D. Erickson, co-owner of Aeppli & Erickson, a leather tanning company located in the West Humboldt neighborhood.
The home appears to have been part of a joint venture between Peter Erickson and his business partner, Charles J. Aeppli. In May 1906, Aeppli paid $6,000 to purchase several adjoining parcels on the south side of Palmer Square near Albany Avenue. He then immediately conveyed the property to Erickson for the same price.
In 1908, Aeppli and Erickson each took out a building permit for the construction of a two-story brick residence, Erickson’s at 3071 Palmer Square (then No. 200 Palmer) and Aeppli’s next door at 3065 Palmer (then No. 194). Sometime between 1906 and 1908, the two men acquired additional property and adjusted the boundaries slightly, as the 1906 purchase was for 91 feet of street frontage, but permit records show Erickson’s lot width as 72 feet and Aeppli’s as 74 feet. Both lots were 150 feet deep.
The generous size of the two lots, each nearly three times the width of the typical 25-foot-wide city lot, enabled Erickson and Aeppli to situate their new homes slightly closer to the shared lot line. With the nearly identical footprint of the two homes, this assured that future development on neighboring properties would not intrude on the properties’ open space, light and airflow. These design choices were particularly beneficial for Erickson’s property, as No. 3071 continues to enjoy open space on its west side, despite subsequent construction of a corner building that crowds the lot line.
The brick-and-stone home Paul Hansen designed for Erickson projects strength and grace with a strong Prairie School influence, whose key element is the deep porch that wraps around the front and east sides of the home under an impressive horizontal roof with deep eaves.
Four substantial brick columns with stone trim support the porch roof, which extends beyond the house over the driveway, creating a porte cochère. Two of the porch columns are at the roof’s corners, while the other two columns frame the front entrance. A half-column with a stone urn marks the west end of the porch and the porte cochère’s stairs to the driveway, which leads to a large coach house nearly half the width of the lot.
Hansen’s design also tapped other architectural styles. The stone trim and banding that accentuate the home’s horizontal lines are complemented by the Greek urns and half-columns in the porte cochère, as well as by graceful Ionic capitals on the porch columns. The curved roof over the second floor and dormers adds an Oriental influence.
The double-hung windows with upper sash grids on the first floor’s large bay are repeated on a smaller scale on the second floor and in the dormers. The eaves on the upper floor’s roofs, while prominent, are also on a smaller scale, while the dormers’ window stiles mimic the porch roof’s columns.
Hansen also used red brick to provide visual contrast and further detail on the second floor. A thick band of red brick underscores the cornice and outlines the windows, while a narrower band of red brick encircles the second floor, connecting the midpoints of the windows and echoing the first floor’s horizontal stone bands.
Although Paul Hansen was listed as the architect only for Erickson’s home, he also designed the neighboring home at 3065 Palmer, and the two homes were built at the same time by the same mason. But the two buildings are not identical twins; there are subtle differences in columns, brackets, and downspouts.
Key architectural features:
1. Deep eaves 2. Wraparound porch 3. Porte cochère 4. Ionic capitals 5. Red brick bands and accents
1. Deep eaves
2. Wraparound porch
3. Porte cochère
4. Ionic capitals
4. Ionic capitals (detail)
5. Red brick bands and accents
Paul Hansen, Architect
Paul Hansen was a prosperous Chicago architect. Born in Denmark in 1851, he emigrated to the United States with his wife, Helene, and their daughter, Margrethe, in 1892 and immediately settled on Chicago’s North Side. Little is known of where Hansen was trained, but given his mature age and family status when he emigrated, he most likely received his training and early professional experience in Denmark.
Hansen may have come to Chicago to join other Danish architects in business. Business directories from the mid-to-late 1890s listed other North Side architects with the same surname, and Paul Hansen himself did not have his own listing. By 1898, however, Hansen was taking on projects under his own name. He is also listed as an architect in the 1900 U.S. census and appears in business listings shortly thereafter.
It appears Hansen worked from his home. Though he did not have an office listed in local business directories until 1906, a 1903 news article announcing the award of an Art Institute Scholarship to his daughter, Margrethe, reported that Paul Hansen was an architect and that the family lived on Winthrop Avenue in Lake View.
Hansen’s first works were for flats, but by the 1910s, he transitioned to doing large apartment blocks. Hansen was particularly busy around the time he designed 3071 Palmer, with permits for five different two- and three-flat buildings issued in the last four months of 1909 alone. Though Hansen worked primarily on the city’s North Side, this cluster of permits stretched from Lake View and Rogers Park to the Austin neighborhood on the West Side and to a large corner apartment building in the Lawndale neighborhood on the near Southwest Side.
Hansen did not limit himself to apartment buildings, and some of his work is considered architecturally significant. Both 3071 Palmer Square and its neighbor at 3065 Palmer Square are contributing buildings to the Logan Square Boulevards Historic District, and a two-story Queen Anne frame home designed by Hansen and built at 4646 North Dover Street in 1905 is listed as a contributing building in the Dover Street Landmark District in Uptown.
Hansen’s most notable apartment building is probably the one he built for himself at 4646 N. Magnolia Avenue. The 1924 building is described as a “half-courtyard Rembrandt” and is listed as “Significant” in the National Register nominating papers for the Sheridan Park Historic District in Uptown. Paul Hansen lived there until his wife’s death in 1937. He died the following year at age 87.
Peter D. Erickson, for whom 3071 Palmer Square was built, was also a Danish immigrant. Erickson came to the United States in 1878 at the age of 18. Like Hansen, Erickson quickly came to Chicago’s North Side to live among fellow Danish immigrants. His wife, Anna Elizabeth, was born in Denmark in 1867 and emigrated to the United States in 1881. Peter and Anna married in 1884 and had two children, George, born in 1884, and Elizabeth, born in 1886.
Erickson became a leather tanner and in the early 1900s, formed Aeppli & Erickson, a leather tanning business, with Charles J. Aeppli. It appears that Aeppli, a Chicagoan whose parents were also born here, was already established in business by the time he and Erickson joined forces. Aeppli & Erickson operated in a plant located in West Humboldt at the corner of Bloomingdale Avenue and Ballou Street (now St. Louis Avenue).
Erickson & Aeppli prospered and the business soon expanded to include other leather products, such as shoes, moccasins, and gloves, as well as finished leathers. In 1905, the partners contributed to San Francisco earthquake relief. In 1906, they bought the properties on Palmer Square, engaged Paul Hansen to design their homes, and became next-door neighbors. By 1909, they had 30 employees, and by 1910, Peter Erickson’s son, George, had joined the business as a clerk.
The togetherness didn’t last long. By 1912, Aeppli & Erickson had advertised its processing plant for rent, and in 1914, the partners sold the property to the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad Co. for an elevated rail line. The rail line was eventually discontinued, and the abandoned right-of-way — including the former Aeppli & Erickson property — is now part of Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail.
Erickson and Aeppli continued in the leather and tanning business separately. In 1915, Erickson entered into a five-year partnership in a leather business operating under his new partner’s name as Charles Perlman & Co.; U.S. census records indicate that he retired after that arrangement ended. Aeppli continued his business as Charles J. Aeppli & Sons; he sold his home and moved to Park Ridge before 1920.
Advertisement for the Aeppli & Erickson Tanning business.
Peter and his wife remained at 3071 Palmer, where Anna Elizabeth died in 1937 and Peter died in 1938. The Ericksons were a close-knit family, and Peter, Anna Elizabeth, daughter Lizzie, son George, and his wife are buried in a family plot in Mount Olive Cemetery.
The house was sold after Peter died, and subsequent owners carved the single-family home into two duplex apartments. The current owners bought the property nearly 40 years ago and restored its original single-family configuration, added various garden structures, and renovated the coach house, which maintains much of its original integrity.
Today, the owners enjoy every aspect of 3071 West Palmer Square, which stands as a testament to Paul Hansen’s talent for timeless design.