Thursday, August 23, 2018

Looking Northeast at the intersection of 107th and Halsted at an 1840s sod house in Chicago.

This photograph, shot sometime in the 1920s by a Daily News photographer, was known as a sod house.[1] More common than you might think, this house was probably built while homesteading in 1840s Chicago. Many families lived like this in the new frontier of the 1800s.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

[1] The sod house or "soddy" was a successor to the log cabin during frontier settlement of the United States. The prairie lacked standard building materials such as wood or stone; however, sod from thickly-rooted prairie grass was abundant. Prairie grass had a much thicker, tougher root structure than modern landscaping grass. Construction of a sod house involved cutting patches of sod in rectangles, often 2'×1'×6" and piling them into walls. Builders employed a variety of roofing methods. Sod houses accommodate normal doors and windows. The resulting structure was a well-insulated but damp dwelling that was very inexpensive. Sod houses required frequent maintenance and were vulnerable to rain damage. Stucco or wood panels often protected the outer walls. Canvas or plaster often lined the interior walls.

1 comment:

  1. My dad's dad was born in a sod house at Geneva, Nebraska in 1880. They were very common.


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