One of Chicago’s oldest homes was severely damaged in a fire early Thursday morning.
The fire started around 1 a.m. on the top floor of the Seth P. Warner House in the 600 block of North Central in the Austin neighborhood.
Jim Bowers and his wife, the homeowners, were able to make it out safely and no other injuries were reported. The 150-year-old home’s attic and roof were destroyed in the fire.
“My wife smelled smoke I went up to the attic and I saw flames. I tried to put it out and it was just too much for me,” Bowers said.
The house was designated landmark status by the city last year. It was built in 1869 and is one of only 13 homes still standing that predate the Great Chicago Fire. It is said to be the oldest home in the Austin neighborhood.
The home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places back in 1992.
Seth Warner was one of Chicago’s earliest settlers. He was a blacksmith, abolitionist and lover of fine arts.
According to city documents, the home has been somewhat of a museum, a place for fine arts and music, as well as a home to several families.
Bowers and his wife have lived in the home for 40 years. He is a civil rights attorney who knows the history of the house and the history of the Austin neighborhood it sits in. Bowers said part of the reason he and his wife bought the house was to continue in Seth Warner’s spirit of breaking down racial barriers. He said they have no plans to move.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.