We live on a street called “North Dearborn Parkway.” We’ve learned that the U.S. Post Office would like to change it to “North Dearborn Street,” so that it has the same name as the rest of Dearborn, stretching to the south. State Street is “State Parkway” here, too, at least for now.
The Gold Coast neighborhood has remained remarkably the same through the dramatic changes in city geography in the last 75 years: white flight, skyscrapers, retail chains, commercial corridors. There are few business or restaurants. There is still an old, fancy racquet club and The Latin School (K-12). Many old houses have been torn down, but many remain – some broken into condos, but most still functioning as single family homes. When horse-and-carriage rides come clopping through you can squint and imagine that it’s really 100 or even 150 years ago.
It’s not as rarified as it once was. There are more modern, less-beautiful studios and 1-bedroom apartments for rent here, too. Below, here’s a slim, modern apartment building squeezed into the space where a rowhouse must’ve once stood, looking a bit out of place.
And two of many modern high rise apartment buildings on our block.
Still, it’s the old places that are the show stealers. Below, a grand old dame of a home, with stained glass inserts above almost every window, which I think of as the “double-wide” on our block because it takes up the space of two row houses. She’s broken up into condos now.
When people ask me where I live, I haven’t been able to bring myself to say “The Gold Coast” yet. Instead I say: “Near North” or “Old Town.” Part of me isn’t quite sure we belong here yet.
We are able to live here because we live right in the church building, on the third floor, in what I like to think of as St. Chrysostom’s Garret – A garret is a room at the very top of a house, just underneath the roof. If you don’t have enough money to rent a proper room, you might be able to rent a garret.
Now, our apartment is hardly an “improper room” – it’s spacious with lots of elbow room and sunlight. I’ll give you a tour in another post. But it’s sort of fun to imagine that we live in the attic or garret, a very romantic place in things like operas and Lucy Maud Montgomery novels. Here’s the outdoor view:
Those leaded windows and stone balcony on the third floors are ours. (The outdoor pulpit is actually right off my office. Fun!) So far, I love living right here in the church building. It’s still private; the four apartments in the church share a separate front door, stairwell, and back steps from the congregation. We have lovely old details like hardwood floors, tall ceilings, and a gas fireplace. Thankfully, there are also modern things like air conditioning, closet space, and our own washer/dryer.
It’s also easy to get to work, that’s for sure.
It’s much more challenging to find the mental space to write than it was in 2012 when I started The Vicar of Bolingbrook. My brain these days is working the learning curve of a new parish and I am meeting new people and learning new things, few of which are appropriate or interesting enough to share on a blog (i.e., I’ve figured out what all my keys go to!). But I am making notes as I walk the neighborhood, shoreline, and local parks, the labyrinthine hallways of this church, and the ins and outs of my own life here, looking for stories and oddities to share with you.
Here’s an old favorite theme – a manhole cover – to seal that promise!