Thursday, February 23, 2017

1501 West Roosevelt Road... a lonely, forlorn-looking greystone that sits by itself on the south side of the street between Laflin and Ashland.

It looks even more forlorn on a cold and gloomy February afternoon.

Why is it all alone? What happened to all the other buildings on either side of it? Surely it wasn't always this way. Built in 1898, I imagine it was once part of a bustling commercial or residential stretch of Roosevelt.

A closer look reveals a name up near the roofline: Thos. Fitzgibbons. (Interestingly, it has a period at the end.) "Thos." was short, of course, for Thomas. This was a common practice in the early part of the last century. Thus "Jos." (as in Jos. A. Bank) was short for Joseph, "Jas." was short for James, "Chas." was short for Charles, "Hod." was short for Harold, and so on. (By the way, my father-in-law, Harold Froehlich, was nicknamed "Hod," or "Hoddy," and I'm sure this is where it came from.)

So who was this Thomas Fitzgibbons fellow, anyway? Does anyone know? Was he the owner, the builder, the architect, what? Was this building a business of some sort? A residence? Was Mr. Fitzgibbons some local big shot? He was big enough to have his name on a building. And whatever happened to him and his family? Do any of his descendants even know of this structure? And will it survive another hundred years? Does anyone even care?

This is the latest in a series I began just this morning. Click here to see the first installment.

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