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  • Writer's pictureKatharine Korte Andrew

Lost Hinsdale: "Fairlawn" 241 East First Street (built 1887)

241 East First Street was built in 1887 for Robert and Mary Clarke, who named their home “Fairlawn,” and designed by architect “G. Isaacson” (Gabriel Isaacson). The residence in the Robbins Park Historic District was placed on the Hinsdale Historical Society’s Register of Historic Structures in 1988 before its demolition three decades later.

241 East First Street, circa 1890. Hinsdale Historical Society Photograph.
241 East First Street, circa 1890. Hinsdale Historical Society Photograph.

The Queen Anne was built in 1887 for Robert and Mary Clarke. The Clarke family came to Hinsdale for the summer of 1886 and stayed at what is called the “Hallmark House” or “Hinckley House” at 142 East First Street. The Clarke family enjoyed Hinsdale so much so that they purchased the lot at 241 East First Street just a block from the Hallmark House. They moved in to their newly built Queen Anne the following year with their three children Robert Clarke Jr., Nellie Clarke, and Norman. While they lived in the home, their son Philip R. Clarke was born to them. Philip would grow up to become a famous businessman, be named Chicagoan of the year in 1960, and received many awards and honors.

241 East First Street, circa 1890. Hinsdale Historical Society Photograph.
241 East First Street, circa 1890. Hinsdale Historical Society Photograph.

In 1898, Elizabeth and Florus Meacham bought the home from the Clarkes. Florus and his wife, Elizabeth, along with their children Marjorie (later Marjorie Kinsella), Madeline (later Madeline Hench), Florisse, and Florus lived in the home until the death of both Elizabeth and Florus in 1921. They also had a coachman and three female servants who lived with the family on and off throughout the years.


In 1921 the Meacham family sold 241 East First Street to Marguerite and Herbert Gray, who in turn sold the home in 1923 to Clarence and Bertha Boothby. Clarence was an engraver at John Ollier in Chicago. In 1947, Evelyn Boothby Stephens and her husband, Russell, became the owners of the house, selling in 1949 to A. William and Margaret Haarlow. Subsequent owners included Frank and Mary Surguine; Robert and Jane Nyquit; Robert and Sharon Johnson; and David and Sharon Robinson.


241 East First Street was a Queen Anne-style residence. The most easily recognized of the American styles, Queen Anne homes were popular across the country from the 1870s to 1900s. The style featured asymmetrical façades, irregular floor plans, dentils, spindle work, classical columns, monumental chimneys, towers and gables, porches, multiple steep roofs, and decorative windows and time. This style captured the decorative exuberance of the Victorian era. The home’s original design, which was modified later through various renovations, included many of these distinctive features of the American Queen Anne style.

241 East First Street, 1966, after the removal of the turrets and tower. Hinsdale Historical Society Photograph.
241 East First Street, 1966, after the removal of the turrets and tower. Hinsdale Historical Society Photograph.

The large towers and gables on the home were likely removed around between the 1910s and 1930s, as there was a movement in fire prevention—and these features were often the cause of house fires during the time.


By 2012, the home had fallen into disrepair and was demolished within the past decade.

214 East First Street in 2012, prior to demolition. From Google Maps.
214 East First Street in 2012, prior to demolition. From Google Maps.

The architect of the home in 1887 was “G. Isaacson,” born Gabriel Isaacson. Isaacson was one of the rising stars in the 1880s Chicago architectural landscape, opening his own firm in 1885 after working under Alexander Kirkland to assist in the architectural work on Chicago’s sixth City Hall (unofficially called “The Boondoggle.” Isaacson designed St. Paul’s Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church (2215 W. North Avenue, Chicago) as well as numerous business flats and residences in Hyde Park, Chicago, Evanston, and other Chicagoland areas. His is a rather unknown architect, however, the Hinsdale Historical Society has discovered that he was a Norwegian immigrant and lived in Chicago until the 1910s when he moved to Los Angeles, California.

Empty lot at 241 East First Street in 2022 after the demolition. From Google Maps Street View.
Empty lot at 241 East First Street in 2022 after the demolition. From Google Maps Street View.

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