Thursday, January 3, 2013

Finding the 1940 Kennelly Family Home

Let me first explain that I have an aversion to facebook.  Maybe it is because I am too old ,but it has always seemed so confusing and is always changing.  Oh gee, that really did sound like an old lady statement!  Several years ago, I jumped on the facebook bandwagon and accidently  offended a good friend.  I didn't realize that the email I received was just a copy of a post on my facebook wall and that my response (whch I thought was private) would also go on my facebook wall.  After that, I closed and blocked everything I could.  But . . . time went by and organizations that interest me used facebook to send messages to members.  My son and his wife post their vacation photos on facebook to share with friends and family.  And so I am a reluctant and infrequent facebook user.

Then about a year ago, I took the bold step of joining a facebook group . . . Chicago Genealogy.  I mostly lurk but now love the fact that I get emails of each post.  If you have Chicago ancestors . . . and I have a boatload . . . I highly recommend this helpful and informative group.

Last August I posted the following:
 Now that I have found my mother and her family in the 1940 census records for Chicago, I hoped to see if the building is still standing. They lived in the Garfield Park area - about two blocks away from the park. The address is 3918 W. Monroe. It appears that there is a building there, but sadly, there is no street view for Google in that area so I cannot tell if it is the same. Any suggestions for getting a photo? I have only partials in the background of photos of people. Thanks!

Almost immediately  Michelle Gobert responded, not just with a suggestion, but with a link to the photo at right. It came from the Cook County Assessor's Office, property search  

Catherine Keckeisen then suggested using the Cook County Geographc Information System.  

Warning that it could be a bit complicated she posted step-by-step instructions for how to use the system.  First go to this website. "Then under "Online mapping with Cook Viewer" click on "Cook Viewer Mapping Application".  Scroll down when it will let you and click on "Accept" (of course after you read all their rules, etc.).  On the next screen that appears, type in the address.  I typed 3918 W. Monroe.  For the city, I typed Chicago.  Click on Search. A new box will appear that shows a bunch of information about the property.  Make sure it has the same address.  Your property is 99 years old for instance.  Make sure you jot down the Parcel Pin number as it can be helpful to get other information from Cook County on this property." ". . .Look down in that second box on the right and click on PHOTO and there you have it! Exciting, huh???"  
And it was!

The next step was to compare the partials (mostly the front porch) with the current appearance of the house.  I am sure my grandparents rented because I don't remember that they ever did anything else.  The information from the above sites indicated that the building is now two apartments with a combined total sq. footage of just under 2700 sq. feet.  The current value is listed as $180,000.

Left side of the porch
Right side of the porch
When I compare the current view of the building and its companions on either side, I can tell they have been modernized . . . and not for the better!  But who am I to criticize. . . I like old stuff. 

The photo at left of my Uncle Ed in his Bishop Quarters uniform shows a beautiful and substantial stone front porch with ionic columns and an arched window with decorative stone detail below.  The current view shows a replacement porch of wimpy wrought iron and a shingled roof with a white plastic chair blocking the view below the window.  Do you think that beautiful architectural detail is still there - or was it sold to a salvage yard . . . worse yet, dumped in a landfill??  

Home to the left
Home to the right
Sadly, the same modernization trend seems to have attacked the buildings on either side of my mother's former home.  The building on the right also had the stone porch removed to be replaced with 1970's chic, but a search for the building to the left (3922 W. Monroe) shows that its stone porch has survived although the building has been painted white.  Architecturally, this is a wonderful block of buildings.  I hope my photos have given you a flavor of the neighborhood that used to be here.

Wait!  Can I see the window detail still there in the photo of the 3922 property??

Both methods ended with the same photo, but depending on the property, one might work better than the other.  So now you have, not just one, but two ways to find Chicago properties courtesy of the facebook group - Chicago Genealogy!  


  1. This was definitely a case of "ask and you shall receive."

    I wasn't crazy about Facebook either. I've decided to be VERY judicious about who I add as "friends." (I hate, hate, hate that word, BTW.)

    A really cool Facebook page I love to follow is "Dusty Old Thing." Very nostalgic.

    And if you are into cemetery art, check out the page of "Death Becomes Her."

    Good to see a post from you...

    Dee at Shakin' the Family Tree

  2. Great old house & those photos match up. So glad that worked out for you!

  3. Seems the Chicago Genealogy Group worked beautifully on this building quest of yours! I like that people will take time to write and help you in the search. Margel, the pictures are wonderful. Sad about the missing Doric columns and the replaced railings. Like you I love that old elegant stuff! Actually I think the modernization in the instant case is not really too bad! And that window.. all of the windows are awesome!

    Oh.. you probably thought you offended ME? when you did not take to Facebook. But wasn't that comparing two different people with two very different sets of needs? I liked keeping up with past students and high school classmates and many other things when I was not able to get out and about easily!