At Home In Skokie

In 2006, Skokie Public Library received a grant to digitize materials documenting the development of Skokie's residential architecture.

Skokie’s earliest settlers were farmers and homesteaders, and their homes were cabins and farmhouses.  Skokie’s first housing boom was stimulated by the development of rapid transit and good roads into Chicago in the 1920s. Land speculators bought up land and laid out subdivisions, planning apartment blocks and other multiple family housing. The population of Skokie was 763 in 1920; by 1930 it boomed to 5,007. The onset of the Great Depression brought all this hopeful activity to a halt; thousands of lots were abandoned and some were eventually used again as farmland.

PhotoAfter World War II, many of these titles were cleared and lot sizes were revised to provide for single family homes. This second housing boom was the definitive one for Skokie; postwar prosperity, population growth, and the rise of the automobile created incredible demand for single family housing. Once again, transportation was a factor in growth: the Edens Expressway, which opened in 1951, provided a major route to the city for burgeoning automobile traffic from the suburbs. Skokie's development as a postwar suburb is both emblematic of the rise of the suburbs in the United States and a unique history of a proudly diverse community.

This collection includes architectural drawings, blueprints, realtor's postcards, advertisements, and photographs.

Architectural drawings Advertisements and other documents
Postcards Maps
Photographs Other resources

Architectural Drawings

PhotoThis collection consists of architectural drawings of various typical Skokie houses.  These drawings typically show the front of the house as well as the interior floor plan.  Some of them are labeled for the first owner of the house.

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The postcards in this collection were produced and mailed by local realtors as advertisements for houses for sale in Skokie.  The postcards will typically show a photograph of the house as well as a detailed realtor's listing, including number of bedrooms and baths, square footage, school district, and other details designed to attract the buyer.

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PhotoThis collection contains photographs of houses and subdivisions in various stages of completion. 

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Advertisements and Other Documents

Krenn and Dato was the preeminent developer of housing in Skokie in the 1940s and 1950s, and this collection contains advertisements published in the local newspapers as well as advertising supplements published by Krenn and Dato themselves. 

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This collection consists of plans for new subdivisions as well as population-density maps of Skokie.

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Other Resources

  • Western Springs History
    Thomas Ford Memorial Library and the Western Springs Historical Society collaborated to build this incredible collection of historic homes in Western Springs, Illinois.  Search for a specific house, browse by street, or use the interactive map to find homes.
  • Lincoln Park Architectural Photographs
    The Wanda Harold Architectural Photographs of two hundred historical buildings in Chicago's Lincoln Park Community include landmark domestic residences, commercial sites, and churches constructed in a variety of historical styles.
  • Architecture of the Pacific Northwest
    Showcases selected architectural drawings of residential, commercial, and public buildings in the Puget Sound region by significant architects and designers from the 1880s into the 1980s

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Funding for this grant was awarded by the Illinois State Library (ISL), a Division of the Office of
Secretary of State, using funds provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services
(IMLS), under the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).