House of the Season: Two Faces of an Historic House

Gazette Article by: Joan Peck

Have you ever wondered where Gage Street got its name?  It came from one of Winnetka’s first settlers, Jared Gage.  He moved from New York State to Chicago, where he operated the first steam flour mill.  Later he went into banking with his nephew, John C. Haines, who became mayor of Chicago.  Gage bought a tract of land in what is now Hubbard Woods and in 1857 built an Italianate house on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, now known as 1175 Whitebridge Hill Road.

The Former Gage house, 1175 Whitebridge Hill, Winnetka, WHS Object ID 3321.21

The original appearance of the Gage house at 1175 Whitebridge Hill.

This house has undergone considerable change over the years.  Gone are many of the elements we associate with the Italianate style, such as the cupola, front porch, rounded window heads and charming little balconies and roof brackets.

The house was remodeled in the 1920s, giving it the classical look that it has today.  The focal point is the balconied entrance portico above which is a leaded Palladian window.  Decorative stonework above the windows has replaced the once rounded window heads.

Three years after the house was built it served as a hospital and morgue during the worst disaster in the history of Winnetka. On the night of September 8, 1860, the Lady Elgin sank in the waters of Lake Michigan. All 100 residents of Winnetka pulled passengers from the chilly water and carried them up the 100 steps to the Gage house.

After the Chicago fire of 1871, Gage’s bank failed because of the many rebuilding loans that could not be repaid due to the financial panic which followed the fire.  Ironically, Jared Gage had built each of his children houses on Scott Street; when the Gages had to sell their property, they moved in with their son Frank.  The original homestead, with enough land for a greenhouse, swimming pool and tennis court, was sold to the Robert Scotts of Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company.  Gilbert Hubbard bought the rest of the land; Hubbard Woods was named for him.

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