Historic Architecture in Lincoln Park: Unique & Landmark Buildings

Buildings in Lincoln Park ChicagoLincoln Park is home to the city’s iconic zoo, as well as a cornerstone for fine dining, entertainment, and nightlife. However, many residents of the area might not know about its historic nature and architecture, which has lasted hundreds of years. 

Though the Chicago Fire destroyed many buildings in 1871, some parts of Lincoln Park have remained untouched. Here are some of this northside neighborhood’s most unique and essential architecture and structures. 

Elks National Memorial

In the heart of Lincoln Park, there’s a significant structure that has stood since the early 1920s. The Elks National Memorial is a dome-like monument constructed to honor the bravery of soldiers who died in World War I. 

The Elks War Relief Commission was responsible for finding the site and overseeing the monument’s construction. They chose the Lincoln Park area for its centralized location and its closeness to Lake Michigan. The commission wanted to make a structure that was so breathtakingly beautiful that those passing by would have to stop and admire it. The memorial was finalized in 1926 when it was officially dedicated to those who had perished in World War I. 

Today, the structure still stands on Lakeview Avenue between Wrightwood and Diversey.   

Biograph Theater 

The Biograph Theater, converted recently into a live-production venue, is a historic landmark for deadly reasons. It’s most famous for the John Dillinger incident, where the notorious gangster was shot outside the premises by FBI agents. Since the shooting, it has become an essential landmark in the Lincoln Park Neighborhood. 

Built in 1914, the Biograph Theater was designed in the style of other 20th-century movie theaters of the time. It has a storefront-width lobby, an indented entrance, and an extensive canopy marquee. The theater was known in its early days as a hangout spot for gangsters and residents alike and continued to be a premier place for midnight showings. 

Today, the Biograph, known as Victory Gardens, is less of a venue for recent movies and more of a spot for live theater productions. 

Francis J Dewis House 

Francis Joseph Dewis was a prominent figure in Chicago in the late 1800s. He was an established brewer, as part of the Busch Brewing Company, and quickly rose the ranks to become a certified millionaire. His mansion, with notable European architecture, is now a historic landmark that still resides in Lincoln Park

Dewis’s house was built in 1896 by Adolph Cudell and Arthur Hercz. They modeled the mansion off of Baroque European architecture, with two exterior pillars in the shape of human figures holding up the building. After Dewis passed away, the home was owned by various Chicago socialites and artists, including Chuck Renslow and famed dancer Dom Orejudos. For its opulent and rich design, the mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970s. 

The mansion resides right off of Lake Michigan, on the quiet and quaint Wrightwood Avenue. Just walking west of Lakeview Avenue, you’ll be able to find this colossal building in all of its glory. 

Lincoln Park Conservatory 

Though many visitors and residents are familiar with the Lincoln Park Zoo, its adjacent attractions don’t get the same recognition. The Lincoln Park Conservatory is just as special and historic. With its serene interior and luscious greenery, it’ll easily transport you to a subtropical landscape. 

The conservatory, constructed between 1890 and 1895, is an updated 19th-century greenhouse. It was designed by acclaimed architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee using brand-new iron and glass building technology. 

With the certainty of industrialization, many cities, including Chicago, wanted to bring nature to their urban landscape. This need for foliage pushed the Lincoln Park Conservatory into a showhouse with various subsections, including orchid, palm, and fern rooms. 

Today, the conservatory is as lush and inviting as ever. It’s open between ten in the morning and five at night every day except Monday and Tuesday. If you ever catch yourself near the zoo, stop by the conservatory for a scenic getaway from the city’s hustle and bustle.