~ Zachary Taylor Davis ~













Louisa B. Davis, née Carroll – Zachary’s mother






Lawrence Conant Davis - Zachary’s son



David H. Davis – Zachary’s son



Curtis Taylor Davis – Zachary’s grandson



















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Zachary Taylor Davis and three of his sons. From left; David, Lawrence, and William. Tragically, William would not survive past age seven.



My great-grandfather Zachary Tay­lor Davis was the personification of an enigmatic and private person. Despite our prospering information age,  little remains to give indication of his existence - with the exception of a few  buildings;  St. Am­brose Church (1904), Kankakee Courthouse (1909), Wrigley Field (1914), St. James Chapel of Archbishop Quigley Pre­pa­ra­tory Seminary (1918), and Mount Car­mel High School (1924),

His career began after he gra­dua­ted from the Ar­t Institute of Chicago and served a six year apprenticeship, which included working as a drafts­man for Adler and Sullivan. (Another young fellow named Frank Lloyd Wright was just about to leave due to a breach of contract.) He then moved on to a position as architect in residence with Armour and Co.



Zachary’s 1926 application for membership to the American Institute of Architects


In 1909, he de­si­gned the Kankakee County cour­thouse. A year later, he was hired by Charles Comiskey to de­sign Co­mis­key Park for the Chicago White Sox. To pre­pare for the project, he tou­red ball­parks around the coun­try with White Sox pit­cher Ed Walsh. In 1914, he de­si­gned Weegh­man Park for the Chicago Whales, a park which would later be­come Wrigley Field.

His offices (1343 & 1345) were located in Chicago’s noted Unity Building, a structure which would disappear as part of Chicago’s Block 37 project. When mentioned in articles, he was simply referred to as “the architect.” More often than not a piece would pertain not to him, but to one of his four children; Zachary Taylor Davis II, Lawrence, David (my grandfather), or Mary Louise. (Another son, William Taylor Davis died at age 7.)

When Zachary Taylor Davis died at age 77 on December 16, 1946 (at his home in the once fashionable South Side neighborhood of Kenwood), services were held at the church he designed in 1904 - St. Ambrose. He would be interred at Mount Olivet Cemetery, joining his wife Alma, who predeceased him one month earlier.



“One of the most significant lost architects in Chicago.” – Family member






Comiskey Park



An original rendering for the ballpark, c. 1910



Charles Comiskey’s “Baseball Palace of the World”  under construction in 1910



Baseball fans line up for tickets in 1914



Crowds  cheer aviator Charles Lindbergh at Comiskey Park in 1927



The Beginning and the End; Comiskey Park, 1910 – 1990



Wrigley Field



One of Zachary’s renderings for the new Federal League Ball Park



Construction of the ballpark in 1914, later named Weeghman Park – it would be re-named Wrigley Field in 1926



The Park, c. 1915



Eddie Collins (Sox) & Chas. Grimm (Cubs) -1926



The exterior of the ballpark in 1928, 1965, & 2010



A Rendering of Wrigley Field in 1929. In 1927 Zachary would be called back by William Wrigley Jr. for an upper deck expansion.




Chicago Bears at Wrigley Field - 1925


Wrigley Field set up for a Bears game - The Bears played at Wrigley from 1921-1970



Oaklawn Park

Hot Springs, Arkansas



In 1904 Zachary designed the clubhouse for Oaklawn Park race track, and it officially opened on Feb. 24th, 1905.


Oaklawn featured one of the first glass-enclosed and heated grandstands, and its popularity was immediate with Midwest horsemen.



The Packing Plants



Not long after establishing his career as architect in residence for Armour & Co., Zachary became the “go to” architect for packing houses across the country. His plants incorporated the use of the most recent building materials and technology at the time. Shown above is the rendering for a packing house that was built for Schwarzschild & Sulzberger in 1898.



Kankakee Courthouse



The Kankakee Courthouse was begun in October of 1909 and completed in July of 1912. It is a fine example of Beaux-Arts architecture, and in 2007 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.




St. Ambrose



Saint Ambrose was built in 1904 at the intersection of S. Ellis and 47th street.


Sadly, the steeple no longer remains; when St. Ambrose was renovated in 2006 it was removed. Although considered one of the most beautiful spires in the city, repairs were estimated to be 1.2 million and the archdiocese could not absorb the cost.



Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary and St. James Chapel



The exquisite St. James Chapel at Archbishop Quigley Pre­pa­ra­tory Seminary (dedicated in 1918) as it appeared in 1925.



St. James Chapel today.



Take note that only the base of the steeple remains. The original copper spire was damaged by a wind storm in 1941 and permanently removed.




Quigley-1 copy.jpg

A rendering of Quigley Memorial Seminary (ca. 1919) from the Chicago Architectural Sketch Club



Drexel Park Presbyterian Church




Construction began in November of 1920 on the Drexel Park Presbyterian Church on the northeast corner of Marshfield Ave. and Sixty-fourth Street. Zachary designed a brick edifice with stone trim and 500 seats, including a Sunday school in addition to the auditorium.




Residence for Mrs. W.D. Curtin


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This house was designed during the summer of 1899 for Mrs. William D. Curtin at the corner of Garfield Boulevard and Oakley Avenue. The house is still extant as a residence.



James Patrick O’Leary House


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In 1901, this house was completed at 726 West Garfield Boulevard for the successful businessman/saloon owner James “Big Jim” O’Leary. O’Leary was only two years old when the Great Chicago Fire began in the family’s DeKoven St. barn.



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O’Leary would live at 726 Garfield until his death in 1925. The house is still privately owned. (Image: designslinger)




Mount Carmel High School





In December of 1922, Father Elieas Magennis, General of the Carmelite Order, and Archbishop Mundelein of Chicago agreed on the need for the immediate construction of a new St. Cyril High School Building. In the spring and summer of 1924, the main high school building was erected, with Zachary Taylor Davis as architect. In November of that year the school was dedicated as Mount Carmel High School.






Soldier Field



In 1920, several Chicago architects were invited to compete in a competition to design a lake front stadium in honor of WWI veterans. This is the plan submitted by Zachary Taylor Davis and William F. Kramer.






Wacker Drive Co-op Office Building




(click to view)


In 1926, the Chicago Daily Tribune published a piece announcing the city’s soon-to-be first co-op office building. Instead, two years later the Burnham Bros. Engineering Building at 205 W. Wacker, rose instead.



Boul Mich Tower





(click to view)


In 1927, developer Henry Paschen leased the site at the southwest corner of Michigan Avenue and East South Water Street for ninety-five years. Zachary Taylor Davis designed a twenty-nine story Gothic skyscraper to be constructed at that location. One year later Paschen sold the leases, and in 1928 the Carbide and Carbon building (designed by Burnham Bros.) was constructed.




Hellenic-American Athletic Club





In July of 1927, the Chicago Daily Tribune announced that Zachary T. Davis had designed this handsome structure which Chicago Greeks planned to erect on the Gold Coast. It was to be called the Hellenic-American Club and the cost was $1,250,000.






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Zachary Taylor Davis

May 26, 1869 – December 16, 1946


EVERY human action gains in honour, in grace, in all true magnificence, by its regard to things that are to come…

THEREFORE, when we build, let us think that we build for ever. Let it not be for present delight, nor for present use alone; let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say as they look upon the labour and wrought substance of them, “See! This our fathers did for us.”

~John Ruskin



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