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.


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