August 2, 2011

Buena House, Buena Park, Uptown Chicago

Excerpt from a bio at the Newbury Library site:

James B. Waller was born in Frankfort, Kentucky in 1817, to William S. Waller and Catherine Breckinridge Waller. He attended Center College in Danville, Kentucky, and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and received a law degree from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky in 1838. He practiced law in Kentucky for the next 20 years, but also began investing in real estate after an 1849 visit to Chicago. Around 1860, Waller relocated permanently to Chicago and established a real estate business with his brothers William, Edward, and Henry.

James built a large home for his family on the north side of Chicago known as Buena House, and developed the surrounding area into the Buena Park neighborhood. After retiring from business in 1867, James B. Waller turned his attention to managing the large estate of his brother-in-law, Robert S. C. Aitchison Alexander, of which he was appointed administrator. James B. Waller married fellow Kentuckian Lucy Alexander in 1847, and the couple had 11 children: Mary Eliza (Minnie) Waller Osborne, Robert Alexander Waller, Catherine Breckinridge Waller Peet, Lucy Alexander Waller Young, James Breckinridge Waller, Susanna Lees Waller, Isabel Waller Knott, Adele Waller Rogers, Virginia Waller, and James Alexander Waller. Robert Alexander Waller attended Washington & Lee College, and later became a successful and respected Chicago businessman. The Wallers entertained often at Buena House, and the residence was known among Chicago's upper class for fine hospitality and lavish social events. James B. Waller died at his home in Chicago in 1887; Lucy Alexander Waller died in Chicago in 1902.


Uptown Updater said...

Does anyone know where this home once stood?

old guy said...

Im only guessing but I think that may be the site where St. Mary's now stands. I remember my grandfather about 50 years ago talking about what was there before the church was built.
great photo

Joanne said...

In April 1913, the Robert A. Waller home - which stood at 4210 North Sheridan Road - was purchased and moved to 1026 West Buena Avenue. (From St. Mary's website.)

adgorn said...

I have always wondered what the house looked like. Thanks for finding a photo.

I posted on another thread the link I made to photos of items I have from the torn down Buena Presbyterian Church. One item was a newspaper article that reported on the history of the congregation. It mentions that the funds for the church were "provided by the will of the late Mrs. Lucy A. Waller. The church to be a memorial to her husband, Mr. James B. Waller." The executors presented the deed for the property and building on March 18, 1906. I uploaded the article to Scribd here:
Buena Presbyterian History, Waller


adgorn said...

Also, this pertains:

The whole area must have been owned by Waller.

adgorn said...

Can't get enough of this one I guess! I have a photo of a watercolor I saw at an exhibition at the Chicago History Museum of the home and lot, inspired by the Eugene Field poem. Plus a photo of Waller's grave in nearby Graceland. (He's located on the east side a bit north of the line with Buena, perhaps still overseeing his estate.)
Alan's Waller photos


Joanne said...

Thanks again for the links, Alan! You always find good stuff.

The Buena House photo was on eBay, along with some other Buena pics, but I lost out on the bidding, so unfortunately, this is the highest resolution I have. It really is a rare view.

My grandfather went to Lincoln Park High School when it was still called Robert A. Waller High. The family was quite influential.

Buena Parker said...

Note that the house shown in the photo is the 1st Waller Home which stood at what is today the north side of W. Gordon Terrace halfway between Sheridan and Broadway (a large courtyard apartment building was built on this site and still stands there today). The front of this 1st house (in photo) faced the Northeast and had an unobscured view of Lake Michigan through the time the Waller's lived there. In the late 1880s, the James B. Waller, Sr. family moved to a new house that they built (Victorian in style, unlike this one) at 4210 N. Sheridan. This 2nd house of the Wallers at Buena and Sheridan (where St. Mary of the Lake is today) is often mistaken for the Waller's first home because the Sheridan/Buena house was where the Wallers lived in late 1800s when Buena Park became part of Chicago and where both James and Lucy Waller lived at their deaths. The 1st house stood until around 1912 (it was owned by Fielding Lewis Marshall and his wife, who was a daughter of James and Lucy Waller, Sr. The second house at Sheridan and Buena was moved around to 1000 block of Buena when St. Mary bought it and used as the church rectory until it was torn down in the 1930s and replaced by the rectory that stands at this site today. From Lucy Waller's death in 1902 several children of the Wallers lived at the Sheridan and Broadway house until most Wallers had left the neighborhood and remaining Waller properties were sold off around 1912-1914.

I'll try to post a photo of the 2nd Waller house at Buena and Sheridan.

Buena Parker said...

I meant in the last sentence above to say that Waller children lived at the Sheridan and BUENA house after Lucy Waller's death in 1902. The other house was lived in by daughter Virginia Waller Marshall and her husband Fielding Lewis Marshall.

Buena Parker said...

The tower in this photo was at the NORTHEAST point of the house, and was no doubt was where the best view of Lake Michigan could be glimpsed.

Buena Parker said...

Note that the angle of the 1st Waller home and the property lines of the few other late 1800s homes near hear were part of what caused Belle Plain, W. Gordon Terrace, etc. to have the curved count ours they did when they platted. They were platted long after these homes were built, and much of the area between Broadway and Sheridan south of Buena Avenue was held as vacant property by the Waller family into the early 1900s (there were a few old homes at the edges of this property in the 1800s, some built by the Waller family and then leased or sold to other families).

adgorn said...

My Waller photos - the tapestry from the Chicago History Museum, plus their grave photos from Graceland:!38246&authkey=!ABus51Q03KTA__M&ithint=folder%2c

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