455 Chestnut

Stories and Structures: Downtown Winnetka and Beyond

455 Chestnut

Winnetka, Illinois 60093, United States

Created By: Winnetka Historical Society


The vernacular Victorian at 455 Chestnut was built c. 1888 by local business owner Max Meyer, who is widely known locally as the founder of Winnetka’s first bank. The Meyer family immigrated from Germany to Winnetka in 1871, first living in a log cabin on Sheridan Road. When Max was 13, he started working as a chore boy at Robert Moth’s general store in town. Seven years later, Moth sold the store to Meyer, where he continued to provide groceries and, later, distributed mail as Winnetka’s postmaster. Soon after, Meyer married Robert Moth’s daughter, Nellie.

In 1894, Meyer opened Winnetka’s first bank – the Bank of Max Meyer – which later became Winnetka Trust and Savings Bank. In addition to his contributions to Winnetka’s business district, he also co-founded the public library and the park district, was a member of the Zoning and Village Plan Commissions, and, perhaps most notably, co-founded the Winnetka Historical Society. He died in his home at 455 Chestnut in 1937.

While the architect is unknown and this house has no designated historic status, it’s survival is a testament to the continuous popularity of this Vernacular Victorian style. It was originally constructed with the horizontal wood siding and gingerbread ornamentation typical of 18th century Victorian designs. It was (and still is) simpler in its design than the more ornate Victorian Gothic styles in the Village, such as 411 Linden and 594 Elm.

This house’s history is defined by change as much as its continuous survival. In fact, alterations began early on in this property’s history. While it originally had a wrap-around porch typical of many Victorian designs, the Meyers removed parts of the porch around 1895. The biggest change occurred in 1927 when the Meyer’s moved the house from the corner of Elm and Chestnut to its current location. The remains of the wraparound porch were lost in the move, and were replaced by the two covered porches on the south and western facades that still exist today. In addition, much of the original horizontal siding was replaced with stucco.

Though much has changed, the main structural integrity of 455 Chestnut remains intact, as we hope it will for years to come.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Stories and Structures: Downtown Winnetka and Beyond


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