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Seyfarth, Robert E. (1878-1950) | Lake Forest College Archives and Special Collections

Name: Seyfarth, Robert E. (1878-1950)
Fuller Form: Seyfarth, Robert Edward


Historical Note:

Robert E. Seyfarth (1878-1950) was born in Blue Island, IL, southwest of Chicago.  His father Edward was a prominent local businessman; his mother's name was Clara.  The architect's grandfather had come form Germany in 1848.  Seyfarth was a graduate of the Chicago Manual Training School, 1895, and then a draftsman for Chicago architect August Fiedler (1843-1903), one of the interior designers for the Nickerson mansion, early 1880s, now the Driehaus Museum.

By 1900 Seyfarth was working for George Washington Maher (1864-1926), renovating the interior of the Nickerson mansion for the second owner, Lucius Fisher. Maher also built  in Blue Island, a club, the Liederkranz Hall (1896), and a house for William Weber (1898).  All this early Seyfarth career reflects a German-American network of architects and clients.  Maher was associated also with the midwestern Prairie School movement, and while in that office or atelier Seyfarth  joined the Chicago Architecture Club, created as continuing education for draftsmen in architects' offices. 

While employed by Maher Seyfarth built his home at 422 (now 12853) Maple Avenue, Blue Island (extant: see http://www.blueisland.org/historic-preservation/landmark-tour/18-seyfarth/).

A 1904 image of this 1903 house is found in this collection. 

Seyfarth opened his own architectural practice in Chicago in 1909 and moved to Highland Park in 1911.  In this new setting he transitioned away from a largely German-American client base.  Indeed, in a booklet for a 2002 tour of Seyfarth houses in Highland Park only one of five houses visited was commissioned by a client with a German-sounding name, the Mahler house, at 1442 Waverly Road (ca. 1920).  In 1910 too Seyfarth built himself a low, gambrel roofed traditional style dwelling in Highland Park, 1498 Sheridan Road (extant). 

Though not yet the subject of a monograph, architect Seyfarth has been the topic of two articles and and two almost monograph-length articles, one for Wikipedia with many projects illustrated and extensive bibliographic notes and the other by Seyfarth family members, with a detailed project listing and more photographs of projects. 

Sources:

Cohen, Stuart E. "Robert E. Seyfarth, Architect."  Chicago Architectural Journal, v. 9 (2000), 108-15.  This includes an extensive but "partial" listing of Chicago and suburbs locations of Seyfarth work, pp. 112-15. 

"Robert E. Seyfarth, Architect, 1878-1950."  http://www.robertseyfartharchitect.com/

"Robert Seyfarth."  Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Seyfarth

Van Zanten, David.  "Robert Seyfarth," Chicago Architectural Journal, v. 5 (1985), 40-41.

Young, William Atkinson.  [Seyfarth eulogy.] Typescript, 1 page.  [March 4, 1950.] Young was pastor, Highland Park Presbyterian Church; his role and the funeral date was noted in the bulletin for the Sunday, March 12, 1950, service [p. 3].

Sources:

Cohen, Stuart E. "Robert E. Seyfarth, Architect."  Chicago Architectural Journal, v. 9 (2000), 108-15.  This includes an extensive but "partial" listing of Chicago and suburbs locations of Seyfarth work, pp. 112-15. 

"Robert E. Seyfarth, Architect, 1878-1950."  http://www.robertseyfartharchitect.com/

"Robert Seyfarth."  Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Seyfarth

Van Zanten, David.  "Robert Seyfarth," Chicago Architectural Journal, v. 5 (1985), 40-41.

Young, William Atkinson.  [Seyfarth eulogy.] Typescript, 1 page.  [March 4, 1950.] Young was pastor, Highland Park Presbyterian Church; his role and the funeral date was noted in the bulletin for the Sunday, March 12, 1950, service [p. 3].

Note Author: Arthur H. Miller, Archivist and Librarian for Special Collections, amiller@lakeforest.edu





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