THE ‘CABEEN HOUSE’
In the years immediately following the calamitous 8th-10th October 1871 Great Chicago Fire, some of Chicago’s leading families constructed ornate mansions and row houses near the idyllic open space of Washington Square, Chicago’s oldest public park.
The Collectors Club of Chicago Clubhouse building, designated as the ‘Cabeen House’ in 1968, was built in the Italianate style by unknown architects ca. 1878, some seven years after the Great Chicago Fire.
When constructed, the original ‘Cabeen House’ address was designated as being located at 351 Dearborn Street (without a North or South designation), as confirmed by the front entrance’s stained glass depiction of the then-current house number. Documented in the Plan of Re-Numbering the City of Chicago / August 1909 report, the ‘Cabeen House’ was re-numbered to designate a location being at 1029 North Dearborn Street. The neighborhood area currently is regarded as being within the ‘Gold Coast’ district of downtown Chicago.
The final family occupants of the home were Richard McPherren and Belma B. Cabeen. In a letter to the Club dated 29th August 1967, Richard Cabeen and his wife, Blema, formally offered the Collectors Club of Chicago their home reserving, however, the right to live in the house for as long as they wished. On 13th September 1967, at a special meeting of the CCC Board of Directors, Arthur Salm and Herbert Anderson were authorized to execute the agreement, and accept the gift on behalf of the Club in accordance with its terms and the Cabeens’ letter.
At the January 1968 CCC Board of Directors meeting, Richard McPherren Cabeen was elected an Honorary Life Member, and their home was officially designated as being the ‘Richard and Blema Cabeen House’. Richard Cabeen passed on 15th April 1969. His eulogy included information detailing that he was an architect by profession, and an expert in the field of philately, who had served for over 36 years as editor of the stamp and coin column of the Chicago Sunday Tribune.
He was a prolific writer and author of countless articles. He also was the 1957 author of The Standard Handbook of Stamp Collecting, and co-author, with Dr. Carroll Chase, of the One Hundred Years of Territorial Postmarks handbook He spent a lifetime collecting early United States stamps, specializing in the United States 1851-1857 3¢ issues.
The ‘Cabeen House’ attained a Chicago Landmark Status on 10th July 2002, but not as an individual building. It is but one part of the very large ‘Washington Square Historic District’. The ‘Washington Square Historic District’ area was declared a ‘Chicago Landmark’ on 16th May 1990, and achieved listing on the ‘United States National Register of Historic Places’ on 21st August 2003.
The original 1990 ‘Washington Square Historic District’ included the Washington Square Park District (‘Bughouse Square’, Chicago’s famous 1910s-1960s geographic center for public speeches), the Newberry Library at 60 West Walton St., and the 915-929 N. Dearborn St. areas. The first ‘Washington Square Historic District’ landmark extension was created on 10th July 2002, and included the buildings located at 1023-1029 North Dearborn Street. It was under this first landmark extension proclamation that the “Cabeen House’ achieved landmark status.
Since accepting the responsibility for occupying the ‘Cabeen House’, the CCC has rehabilitated and remodeled the entire building, to include required reconstructions and replacements on its façade and roof, replacement or the introduction of new heating and cooling system, and a complete replacement of the entire building’s electrical components. With the rapid and continuous growth of the library, almost every room on the 3rd level, and all of the rooms on the 4th level, have been designated as library areas.