Chicago Landmarks

South Pond Refectory and Men's and Ladies' Comfort Station

Comfort Station detail, photo by Terry Tatum, 2001     Address: 2019 N. Stockton Dr.
Year Built: Comfort Station, 1888; Refectory, 1908
Architect: Perkins & Hamilton , Joseph Lyman Silsbee
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: February 5, 2003

South Pond Refectory, photo by Terry Tatum, 2001 Located in Lincoln Park on Chicago's north lakefront, this pair of buildings are among the city's finest examples of park architecture. The South Pond Refectory (now known as Café Brauer) is an outstanding example of the innovative Prairie style, a world-renowned architectural style which originated in Chicago and its suburbs. Its second-floor Great Hall is a fine example of Arts-and-Crafts design. Its designer, Dwight Perkins, was an important progressive architect in Chicago in the early 20th century.

In contrast, the earlier whimsical-looking Men's and Ladies' Comfort Station (now known as the Carlson Cottage) typifies Victorian-era picturesque architecture, based on past medieval precedents. Its architect, Joseph L. Silsbee, was a designer of fine Queen Anne and Shingle Style buildings in Chicago during the 1880s and 90s. Silsbee is also noteworthy for giving the young Frank Lloyd Wright his first architectural job.

Both buildings reflect the changing cultural attitudes towards the role of parks in urban societies, from pastoral settings devoted to passive recreation to landscapes more intensively programmed with recreational and social uses.