Elmer Bennett House

2021 High Street

Built in 1878

Photographs by BIHS Executive Director Kevin Brown

 

Elmer Bennett and his wife Christina were engaged in the livery business in Blue Island before the turn of the twentieth century.

 

The Bennett House was built from bricks made at the Reusnow brickyard. Clay left by the glacial lake bed surrounding Blue Island became the raw material that made Blue Island the brick-making capital of the world for three-quarters of a century.

 

The first brickyard in Blue Island was established by Henry Wibben in the 1850s near the Calumet River. The yard was later operated by Henry Tewes.

 

Carl Reusnow opened his yard at Vermont and Ashland Avenue. Here clay was softened beneath wheels turned by horses, which was then packed into molds and allowed to dry in the sun. Workers would turn the bricks by hand and when sufficiently dry the bricks were burned to hardness over wood fires. Reusnow operated until 1883, and the brick is identified by its dark color. Tewes bricks has a light yellow color.

 

This solid example of vernacular architecture was typical housing for middle-class residents of Blue Island in the nineteenth century.

 

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