Greystones are a unique form of residential building that defines the character of many of Chicago’s historic neighborhoods – the same way “Brownstones” define neighborhoods in Brooklyn, NY. The term “Greystone” refers to a style of construction – a masonry building with a front façade constructed of Bedford limestone quarried from south central Indiana – rather than a singular architectural style. Popular between 1890 and 1930, Greystones were built in wide range of sizes (e.g., workers cottages, two flats, row houses, and mansions) and architectural motifs (e.g., Romanesque Revival, Queen Anne, Chateauesque, and Classical Revival/Beaux Arts). Regardless of size or style, a Greystone’s limestone-façade was always oriented to the street, taking full advantage of the narrow frontage afforded by Chicago’s standard 25’ x 125’ lots. There are an estimated 30,000 Greystones remaining in the City of Chicago.
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Most Greystones are found in a “Greystone Belt” extending roughly three to seven miles from Chicago’s downtown Loop. Neighborhoods located within the Greystone Belt include: Andersonville, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Logan Square, Wicker Park, Humboldt Park, East and West Garfield Park, North Lawndale, Englewood, Greater Grand Crossing, Kenwood, Oakland, Hyde Park, and Woodlawn. Greystones can also be found as infill buildings as far north as Rogers Park and as far south as Roseland. Prominent concentrations of Greystones are located along or adjacent to Logan Boulevard, Douglas Boulevard, Grand Boulevard, and King Drive.
In 2008, the Historic Chicago Greystone Initiative® expanded it focus to include sandstone, redstone, and brownstone-clad buildings built between 1890 and 1930. While these buildings are less common than Greystones in Chicago, they share many of the same architectural and building characteristics, as well as exhibit many of the same care and maintenance needs. Additionally, sandstone, redstone, and brownstone residences are typically found interspersed on blocks with their limestone-clad counterparts.