Gazette Article by: Cindy Fuller
Appeared in the Gazette: Winter 1999
Boal Parkway’s First House
“Getting there is half the fun.” So goes The impressive white brick residence at 864 Boal Parkway, built in 1936, was the first house constructed when Boal Parkway was originally dedicated. Boal Parkway was platted in 1926 for prominent Winnetkan Ayres Boal. Boal was recognized in the community not only for his association with the Boal Parkway property but also for his work with the park district after its formation in 1904, for the stores at the northeast corner of Elm and Lincoln, and for his part in the establishment of the Community House in the 1930s.
Boal Parkway occupied what was in those days the wooded outskirts of town. Following the dedication of the street, a flurry of building over the next 20 years filled the street with a variety of architect-designed homes.
Some refer to the house at 864 Boal Parkway as the “white castle.” Designed by Frank Polito of Chicago for Mr. and Mrs. John Fenn, the design is reminiscent of a French chateau, with a prominent entry tower and elegant detailing. Pattern and asymmetry entertain the eye. This more modern interpretation of an historic style incorporates amenities such as a screened porch and built-in garage.
The house greets us with two wings extending at a slight angle away from either side of an octagonal entry tower. A small, hipped roof supported by brackets tops the front door. Above, on three sides of the octagon, are tall, narrow windows reminiscent of lancet windows in a castle turret. Diamond-patterned brickwork decorates the façade of the house—as a cornice under the roof, climbing the chimney, and as accents over, under, and around windows. Diamond-shaped mullions continue the theme.
While various window arrangements dot the façade, an expansive roof line punctuated by dormers unites the composition. The V-shaped plan of the house maximizes the amount of façade fronting the street while creating a private setting enveloping the backyard.
A gracious octagonal entry hall incorporates a stair with an elegant wrought iron balustrade ascending the full two stories of the tower. The interior is organized on four different levels, promoting the sense of winding through a castle-like, rambling maze of rooms. Interior details continue the diamond-pattern theme, and door moldings are topped with a stylized ogee crown.
A 1978 great room addition with beamed ceiling and stone fireplace enhances space in the house while perpetuating the original character and design. All the owners of this house have clearly maintained the vision and detail created in 1936.