Three generations of the Hetherington family are responsible for the architectural design of more than 100 homes on the city’s South Side.
This weekend, the Beverly Area Planning Association(BAPA) is partnering with the Ridge Historical Society to offer tours of some of these homes along with a photo exhibition highlighting their work and impact.
In North Beverly along the Dan Ryan Woods, stand three homes all designed by the Hetheringtons. The family of architectural designers worked on more than 100 homes in Beverly, Morgan Park and Mt. Greenwood. A new tour is highlighting some of the homes and some of the fascinating residents.
Occupied by Audrius Plioplys since 1999, one home on the tour was formerly owned by Al Capone’s banker, John Bain.
“He was a very wealthy person,” Plioplys said. “The most important banker in Chicago at the time.”
Bain occupied the home in the 1930s and based on information shared by Bain’s granddaughter and his own personal research, Plioplys believes Bain was visited by Capone’s “organization” on a regular basis.
“As the depression set in and investments began tanking, the Capone organization demanded all of its money be taken out and Bain had to guarantee it,” Plioplys said. “The Capone people would come over here and threaten him, so he had to get all his money to them.”
When it came time to pay up, Plioplys says he could think of only one place Bain would stash all the money he owed.
“If you’re going to have a convenient place to hide money ... it could be here. The library is a nice place. You could find nooks and crannies. I looked, and there’s no cash lying around or gold bars or anything, but it’s likely there are secret compartments here.”
From the light fixtures to the fireplace, to the glass in the double doors, Plioplys has maintained the original library in its entirety. But the home wasn’t only occupied by Bain. It was also owned by the former vice president of General Motors, Oscar Arnold. He’s responsible for a lot of the home design.
As for the Hetherington family’s design style, researcher Tim Blackburn says there are lots of distinctions.
“The three generations cover eight decades, if you include the third generation who lived close to 2000,” Tim Blackburn says. “In the ‘20s and ‘30s, they focused on the revival style. Which go from Tudor to French eclectic to American Colonial … the Driscoll Graver house is a Tudor revival house. What makes them unique is their site ... they’re built for their location.”
While providing a window into Chicago history, the home also speaks to a sad reality for Black Chicagoans during this time.
“The covenants in 1928 ... in the sales documents, the same covenant would appear that the house is being sold with the understanding that the house would never be resold to anyone who was African American, with an exception for hired help. Very clearly stated.”
BAPA will offer a home tour Sunday, May 15 at noon, tickets start at $30.
Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3
Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.