Introduction to Summer 1988
RHS Newsletter Commentary on Herbert Graver, Jr.’s Visit
Gary Sauermann, an architect, was a founding member of Ridge Historical Society and its president from 1975 to 1977. In our summer 1988 newsletter we were very fortunate to have his summary of a visit by Herbert Graver, Jr. whose parents built the house we now occupy and call the Graver-Driscoll House. RHS acquired the house in December 1971 from James Driscoll, an electrical contractor. This is the closest we have to a description of how this exceptional house looked as it was originally constructed. We do not have the architectural drawings of the house nor have we ever succeeded in obtaining any interior photographs of the house while it was occupied as a family residence. We know that a fire during the Christmas season of 1962 did substantial damage such that the south half of the ground floor, all its windows, and the main staircase and windows at the staircase landing were replaced.
Early History of Graver-Driscoll House, by Gerhardt Sauermann
On Sunday, July 26 (1988), I dropped in at Graver-Driscoll House. Lois Grayston was docent, and she told me, “There is a man here who says he was born in the house. His name is Herbert Graver, Jr.” Of course, I knew that Herbert Graver had the house built and was its first resident. The visitor who introduced himself said he was born in the house April 26, 1921 and lived here 17 years. His parents had moved into the house a few months before he was born.
I took the opportunity to ask how he remembered the house to have been when he lived in it and here are descriptions of things that were different. Entrance to the property was from the Seeley Avenue side, directly opposite from the front door. There was no driveway from Longwood. The large white house on Seeley was not there and the property lines extended straight through from Longwood to Seeley. The next house north on Seeley, which now has red trim, was the home of William Graver, the grandfather of Herbert, Jr.
Upon entering the house, you stepped into a lobby. There was no west closet there. From the lobby you would go through glass paneled doors into the hall. Also there were glass folding doors between the hall and the living-room, hall and dining-room, hall and east porch, and living-room and the east porch. The stairway to the second floor from the hall was all wood, even the bannisters. Herbert remembers sliding down them. It could have been walnut as was the wainscoting in the living room. Above the wainscoting was a green and gold blended wallpaper. The living room also had egg and dart molding identical to that still in the dining room. The fireplace has musicians’ heads holding it up.
The dining room also had dark brown wood wainscoting. A swinging door led to the kitchen which was much narrower north and south. The present kitchen nook was part of the kitchen and a butler’s pantry was between the kitchen and dining room. The present tiny flower room was larger then and was the breakfast room. The office was originally a den, again with a wood wainscoting, the bookcases on the east wall were cabinets with leaded glass doors.
Above the main stairway, were four high casement windows with smaller square windows above in which were the family crest, a fraternity crest, and other symbols in leaded glass.
Five bedrooms were on the second floor. The master bedroom was the south room as one would expect. The two center rooms are unchanged. One was Herbert Jr.’s room and the other a guest room with the bathroom between. The north room we use for our archives was divided into two rooms for servants, one for a maid, the other for a cook. The present makeshift closet suggests a second doorway. The attic was unfinished except for the floor and the cedar closet, probably the one there now.
The exterior however gives a different appearance, I was told, primarily because of the changed windows. In general, the original windows were more like the present windows at the top of the attic stairs.
In addition, Herbert and Mrs. Graver offered some family information. The family moved to 10428 South Seeley Avenue. In 1939, Herbert attended the Morgan Park Junior College. There he met Marjorie Lee of the Fernwood neighborhood whose father and grandfather were both connected with Chicago Bridge and Iron Company. Her father, Francis Lee, was purchasing agent. Her grandfather was Henry Rosier. It was interesting that families connected with Graver tanks and Horton tanks were united. It is also hoped that the Herbert Gravers will read this and make correction if necessary and provide additions. The Herbert Gravers live in Hinsdale. Let us hope we see more of them.