Sunday, January 11, 2015

Oscar G. Mayer Mansion

The Oscar G. Mayer Sr. Mansion, Evanston, Illinois 
In December of last year, the historic, though crumbling, Oscar Mayer mansion at 1030 Forest Avenue, in Evanston, Illinois, was listed for $1.75 million. The mansion has been vacant for many years, and serves today as a home to the various animals and insects who have infiltrated the property. Despite its fading grandeur, the property still retains a certain elegant and graceful feel, with the dark green vines that climb up the walls and columns of the porch and the overgrown bushes and shrubs. Unfortunately, the interior isn't as lucky. 

A front view of the dilapidated Mayer Mansion.
Originally built in 1901 by the architectural firm of Hallberg & Sturm, it was one of the few residential commissions performed by Meyer Strum and L. G. Hallberg, who were mainly known for designing and building hospitals. Designed during the middle of Hallberg & Strum's partnership (1900-1902), the chateausque-style mansion was first owned by Mr. and Mrs. William F. Stevens. In the 1920's (1927, to be exact), processed-meat magnate Oscar G. Mayer purchased the home from the Stevens and quickly began renovating the place.

Oscar G. Mayer Sr. circa 1960's
Oscar G. Mayer (1888-1965)
    Oscar Mayer had the mansion enlarged to its current size of over 7,000 square feet, including the addition of a ballroom. Mayer, who served as President of the Chicago Association of Transportation and Industry from 1938-1940 and as well as a trustee of the University of Illinois from 1934-1940, was a frequent host of guests, even after his retirement in 1940.

Photos: The Oscar Mayer mansion
The fireplace in the library of the mansion. 
Photos: The Oscar Mayer mansion
The bathrooms are in the worst condition, though the pink marble and stained
glass window appear to be in relatively good condition.
Photos: The Oscar Mayer mansion
The staircase of the mansion. 
Oscar Mayer died at his mansion on March 5th, 1965, at the age of 76. In his 41-page will, he details how his money it to be dispersed: $66 million in Oscar Mayer Co. stock bequeathed to the Oscar and Elsa Mayer Charitable Trust for "charitable, educational and scientific purposes," a $512,000 trust fund for each of his four children, and $25,000 outright and $30,000 annually to his wife, Elsa. Oscar's son, Oscar G. Mayer Jr., took over his father's position at the family company and was head  till his death in 2002. 

Aerial of the Mayer property. 
Street view of Oscar Mayer mansion.
Street view of Oscar Mayer mansion. 

The mansion was eventually sold by the family, and passed through a series of hands. The current owner, who shall remain nameless, is being forced by the city to sell the property so as to pay back the millions of dollars he borrowed from lenders. The estate needs considerable work, but would be quite the gem if brought back to the once glorious state it was originally in. 

Photo credits: Curbed: Chicago, Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame, Flickr, Bing and Google Maps, Homes Yahoo. 

To view the listing, click HERE 

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