12853 Maple Avenue
Built in 1903
Robert E. Seyfarth was born in Blue Island in 1878 to Edward and Clara Seyfarth, well-to-do merchants whose hardware store was located at the site on which his grandparents had operated the tavern and boarding house they established when then came to Blue Island in 1848. The Seyfarth Building, which stood at the southwest corner of Western Avenue and Grove Streets, was built by Robert’s father to replace the structure lost in the Great Blue Island Fire of 1896.
Robert Seyfarth attended primary school in Blue Island and entered Chicago Manual Training School 1891 where he received his architectural training. Upon graduation he worked for August Fiedler, architect for the Chicago Board of Education. In 1898 he went to work in the office of George Washington Maher. Seyfarth went into practice for himself in 1911 and shortly thereafter moved to Highland Park, where he spent the rest of his life designing hundreds of homes, most in the North Shore.
Although trained in the Prairie School tradition, of which his own house is an example, Seyfarth did not claim the style for his own, and after he left Maher’s employ never designed another Prairie School building. In the design of his buildings, Seyfarth borrowed freely from the past to create houses that were imbued with the warmth and character of earlier times.
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