3536 S. Lowe
The redbrick bungalow in the heart of Bridgeport was built in the late 1930s to the specifications of its future occupant, a state senator named Richard J. Daley. Born in 1902, Daley had first lived just a half block south on Lowe. In the late 1920s he and another Bridgeport product, Eleanor “Sis” Guilfoyle, began courting, and six years later they married. They stayed in apartments in the neighborhood before moving into the bungalow with their two little daughters in 1939. Richard M. was born in 1942 and lived in the house until he married in 1972. The bungalow remained home for Sis Daley after Richard J.’s death in 1976, until she herself died, in 2003, at age 95. Later that year a grandson, Patrick Daley Thompson, bought the bungalow for $415,000. A clout-heavy lawyer, Thompson, now 41, lives there today with his wife and three young children.
Preservation Chicago, a group that lobbies for the preservation of historic architecture, suggested after Sis Daley died that the bungalow be considered for landmark status, but nothing came of it. “This might be a good time to revisit the issue,” Jonathan Fine, the organization’s executive director, tells me. “Obviously, the first Mayor Daley and the second Mayor Daley cast a massive shadow—well, maybe that’s not a good word for it. The two of them together reigned over—well, maybe that’s not a good word for it either.” Fine laughed, then regrouped. “Their influence on the city of Chicago in the 20th century and the early 21st century was second to none.” The recent Mayor Daley never disclosed how he felt about landmark status for his first home. But the commission that recommends landmarks is appointed by the mayor and its recommendations are voted on by the City Council, so if Daley had wanted the bungalow to be a landmark, it would already be one.
His nephew Thompson voiced mixed feelings about the notion when I raised it. “It’s been a family home, and that’s the way we view that,” he said. Landmark status would put “restrictions on what you can and can’t do in terms of improvements, remodeling, or expanding.” On the other hand, he said such recognition would reflect honorably on his grandfather and uncle. Bus tours and bike tours often stop at the bungalow even without any official designation. The visits have been a source of pride for his family and not an intrusion, Thompson said.
The home is protected by a metal fence in front and a wooden privacy fence in back. The U.S. and Chicago flags still fly on a pole next to the house. When I stopped by in May, I spotted a small bike with training wheels near the rear side door. It belongs to the youngest Thompson child, who’s in kindergarten.
Home ownership, even of a famous and solid property, is not without its headaches. Over the winter the Thompsons’ two-year-old poodle-lab mix “completely destroyed the lawn,” Thompson said, and he was in the process of resodding it. —Steve Bogira