Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Six Flat

Well, we've moved on, ever so slowly, from the three flat up to the six flat. These can take many forms, layout wise. But today's feature is an early (1906) form, on the higher end of the spectrum. From what I can deduce and determine, the six-flat began to take form around the end of the 19th century. Probably about 1890, and many were built on the south side in conjunction with the Columbian Exposition, some even in neo-colonial styles - Hyde Park and Kenwood are rife with them. That is where today's example comes from.

I think that in plan, they would be called "long hall" apartments in New York, and that the plan, in Chicago, is often called a railroad, though this isn't strictly accurate as that term implies having to travel through one room to get to the next, from one room to another with no hallways or corridors between them, this example certainly doesn't do this, except into the servants or ancillary spaces, which are off the dining room, and certainly the public (and family private) spaces do not.

The building is entered through a center foyer with marble paneling and then one proceeds up marble stairs into the stair well, which is top lit by a skylight, from where one accesses the individual apartments. The units are entered into a spacious foyer or reception hall with a generous opening into the living room, which takes up the entire front of the apartment. The door from the foyer spans the entire foyer wall. The large, light, bright and spacious living rooms feature French doors out to a small balcony and a large three-windowed round day, as well as craftsman-prairie school inspired woodwork and a large built in bookshelf which encases a tiled and metal (the interior is metal with fleur-di-lis decorations) decorative (formerly gas fired) fireplace. Behind the living room, off the entrance hall, is a spacious front or master bedroom with ample space for furniture and two windows. Interestingly, this building is not quite symmetrical, and one half has a niche for built-ins in the bedroom, and connecting doors into the second bedroom.

From the front hall, a glass paneled door leads into the rear hall, which leads to the dining room. Off this hallway is the bathroom, which faces a central light-well or (very) small court and the second bedroom. The hallway also features obscured casement windows onto the light well and a fairly large hall closet. The second bedroom is also generous, with two windows spaced for furniture between.

The large dining room is at the end of the corridor and has a low slung triple or Chicago (style) window. Most of these have been remodeled in various periods. Many of them were done in a twenties "panel" style, while others still had the Edwardian paneling in a somewhat craftsman inspired style.

Through another door is a small butlers pantry, with cabinets which appear to have been added after the fact. Then on into a bright kitchen off of which are the third, or maids, bedroom which sports it's own bathroom and a pantry. The back of the building is taken up with a very large back porch, which were originally screened porches. Behind this is a large yard, as there is no alley for automobile access for garages or parking (many streets in Hyde Park do not have alleys, as most of the rest of the city has). The basement is taken up with the usual features, large laundry room, boiler room and water heating apparatus, bicycle room (former coal storage), a small janitors or basement apartment, and a very generous store room for tenants, with spacious storage lockers.