Austin Neighborhood

While the neighborhood of Austin on Chicago's West Side has gone through many transformations since its 1920's heyday, you can still find some surprising architectural relics from its earlier years of blossoming. For you architecture, history and neighborhood buffs, here's an overview of the architecture of this historic neighborhood. 

Long before Austin was home to the producers of Halloween candy corn we all love, it was an autonomous village. Henry Austin, the town's founder, intended this area as a temperance settlement for the anti-drinking crowd to have a sober existence with tree-lined parkways with comfortably-sized homes. Sober architect Frederick R. Schock purchased property here, and instead of printing business cards, Mr. Schock showed off his talents by designing his own home at 5804 W. Midway Park, in the Queen Anne Revival style.

The shingled walls and roof, and rusticated stone base of the house are typical for the Queen Anne Revival style. The variance in the lines of the roof and the materials express an expensive way to build, appropriate for the established middle-class. Schock attracted several clients in Austin from his architectural advertisement, and today you can tour the neighborhood and view the architecture of plenty of Schock's elaborate houses.

In addition to beautiful homes in the area, some historic industrial architecture in Austin is quite interesting. The Brach's factory is emblazoned with its round terra cotta logo, visible on this abandoned structure from a distance. Architect Alfred S. Alschuler designed the factory for the manufacturing of sweets for the Chicago candy empire of Brach's: peanut candies, creams, fudges, chocolate dipping, and marshmallow candies abounded.

While some of the streets that surround the Brach's plant are filled with boarded up homes, Austin does have some well-preserved buildings worth a look, like the Austin Town Hall Field House or Laramie State Bank .

The stately, Classic Revival-style Field House of the Austin Town Hall Park was designed in 1929, as it was previously part of Cicero. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, and today it is a Cultural Center in addition to Chicago Park District Field House, and includes an indoor swimming pool and auditorium. 

The funky Laramie State Bank Building, an official landmark, is like an art deco castle with faux stone facade, geometric columns, and stout and heavy form. The contrast of its mustard yello and greenish-grey terracotta facing is quite striking, and there's nothing else quite like it in the city.