HOME TOUR: What Makes Hetherington Homes So Special  

 

By Tim Blackburn 

The Hetherington family of architects left a significant mark on the homes in Beverly/Morgan Park through at least eight decades of their architectural careers. BAPA’s Beverly/Morgan Park Home Tour showcases Hetherington-designed homes on Sun., May 15, 12 to 5 p.m.     

Father John Todd Hetherington and son Murray D. Hetherington were business partners and collaborators during their long careers in Chicago. Born in Canada and raised in Scotland, John Todd came to Chicago early in his career around 1881. His work spanned the South Side and Chicago region. He moved his young family from Hyde Park to Beverly/Morgan Park in 1906.   

John Todd’s son Murray graduated in 1914 from the Chicago School of Architecture (a partnership between the Art Institute and the Armour Institute).  His early architecture practice was focused mostly in Beloit, Wisc. from at about1916 through the early 1920s. Murray returned to Chicago by 1924 to build a home for his new family in North Beverly. From that time, the Hetherington architects focused especially on Beverly/Morgan Park. It is their impressive designs from the 1920s and 1930s that are showcased on the Home Tour. 

Many of their building permits simply list the architect as “Hetherington,” so it can sometimes be hard to attribute the design of many of their houses to either John Todd or Murray. For the Home Tour and Ridge Historical Society Hetherington exhibit that will be featured on the tour, the architect appears as listed on the building permit or blueprints unless otherwise noted. It is possible that Murray’s sister, Jean, contributed as a draftswoman on at least some of the houses on the Tour. 

Four of the homes on the tour, including the Graver-Driscoll house that is home to the Ridge Historical Society, are among the Hetherington’s most impressive designs at the end of a golden age of American home construction in the late 1920s. Americans’ service in Europe in WWI is often credited with increased popularity of European revival architectural styles, particularly the Tudor, and French Eclectic styles featured on this year’s tour.  

In North Beverly, Hetherington-designed Tudor and French style houses abound. Brick with slate roofs are the most common materials employed by Hetherington architects on their Tudor homes, which are restrained and dignified, yet grand. Steep gabled roofs are the norm and the Hetherington architects were particularly fond of parapetted roofs with concrete or limestone coping. 

On their French style homes, the Hetheringtons used limestone or brick for the walls and the roofs were covered in slate.  

The interiors are as thoughtfully designed as the exteriors of these homes. These homes were built for the well-to-do. The rare original tile in the vestibule of one of the featured homes was made by the Nemadji Tile & Pottery Company. Stairways with wrought iron balustrades, sunken living rooms or sunrooms, unique arched doorways, and large casement windows are typical.  

Be on the lookout for the unique patterns of tiger oak, birdseye maple, and even some plaster painted faux-wood in the woodwork and floors. Don’t miss the opportunity to admire the grand fireplaces as well as the plaster moldings and textured walls in living and dining rooms. 

Upstairs rooms are spacious and include an abundance of closet space.  Coved ceilings are common to mirror the shape of the exterior.  

Adorning the original bathrooms are matte tiles in vibrant colors popular in the Jazz Age period and porcelain built-ins to hold tumblers, toothbrushes, towels, and strop hooks. 

The final architectural style you’ll encounter on the tour is an American Colonial Revival home designed by “Hetherington Architects” per the blueprints, and built in 1936. Colonial Revival homes are usually symmetrical, but the modern desire for attached garages breaks that symmetry.  As a result, Hetherington used a single bay window to center the house.  An elliptical fanlight is used above the door instead of a typical pediment.  Hipped dormers add to the eclecticism, though the interior is mostly Colonial. 

After Murray’s death in 1972, his son Jack continued the Hetherington architecture legacy. Lars Hetherington is the fourth generation of Hetherington architects, currently residing in Hawaii. 

Over 80 Hetherington homes and buildings in Beverly/Morgan Park have been identified to date by the Ridge Historical Society.  The Hetherington family of architects has made a lasting contribution to the architecture of Beverly/Morgan Park that significantly enhances the unique character of the community today. 

Architecture/Hetherington researcher Tim Blackburn is a member of Ridge Historical Society’s Historic Buildings Committee, working with the Society sharing his research for the Hetherington exhibit and with BAPA’s Home Tour Committee.  

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