Riverview Historic District

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The Riverview Historic District in the City of Kankakee
A detail map of the Riverview Historic District

The Riverview Historic District is a neighborhood in the City of Kankakee bordered by Harrison Ave. on the west, River Street down to Eagle Street at Chicago Ave. on the north, Wildwood Ave. on the east, and Cobb Blvd. on the South. It was listed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1986. The distict is noted as the location of: many homes of historically significant Kankakeeans, two homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the home of former Illinois Governor George Ryan, and many examples of appealing residential architectural design. Occasionally terms such as “Deep” Riverview or “Upper” Riverview are used. Though these designations normally refer to surrounding areas, they have no fixed boundries.


The establishment of the Riverview neighborhood is largely credited to the efforts of Emory Cobb, a significant businessman and community leader of late 19th century and early 20th century Kankakee. Cobb retired from the Western Union Telegraph Company of Chicago and moved to Kankakee where he had previously invested in large tracts of land in and around the city. He built a home on a tract at the southeast edge of the city limits which was known as Cobb’s Grove, now known as Riverview. The home that he built for his family still exists today on Chicago Ave. The Rivervew Hotel was built in 1887, on the same tract of land, by the Hotel Riverview Company which consisted of Emory Cobb, The Illinois Central Railroad, and the Big 4 Railroad. The hotel, a popular tourist attraction, stood in the triangle bordered by South Chicago Ave., Greenwood Ave., and Park Place. By 1891 the neighborhood was added to the city limits, with Cobb selling lots in the area advertised as Riverview Park. On November 12, 1897, the Hotel Riverview burnt to the ground and was never rebuilt. The land where the hotel stood was redeveloped for additional homes. Louis E. Beckman purchased the lots west of Cobb Blvd. and south of Eagle St. from Cobb’s estate after his death in 1910. Since then, the neighborhood has remained a prime example of residential architecture from the turn of the 19th to the 20th century [1].

Significant Homes

The Hickox House at 687 South Harrison Ave.

Hickox House

Built in 1901, the Hickox House is noted for being one of the two homes in Riverview designed by world famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The Prairie style structure still stands at 687 South Harrison Avenue. The original owner was Warren R. Hickox, Jr., who ran his father's abstract, real estate and loan business. In the winter of 1900, Hickox went to Oak Park, Illinois to consult with Mr. Wright about designing homes for he and his sister, Anna Hickox Bradley and land inherited from their father Warren Hickox, Sr. Wright visited Kankakee to look over the ground. He not only designed the houses which became the first designed in the Prairie Style of architecture, but also the furnishings for the houses including tables, chairs, carpets and drapes. Today the Hickox House remains a private home.[1]

The Bradley House at 701 South Harrison Ave.

Bradley House

Bradley House at 701 South Harrison Ave. is the other Riverview home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The house was built in 1901 for B. Harley Bradley. Bradley was the grandson of David Bradley, designer of the steel Diamond Breaker plow and the man for whom the Village of Bradley is named. B. Harley Bradley was married to Anna M. Hickox, the sister of the above mentioned Warren Hickox, Jr. In 1913, the home was owned by A.E. Cook, a real estate promoter from Evenston, Illinois. In 1915 it was obtained by Joseph J. Dobson, a member of the Chicago Board of trade for 22 years. Mr. Dobson was also a renowned birder who used the stable on the property for his bird house factory. The house was deeded to Mrs. James F, Nelis, Sr. in 1949 for her faithful service as Mr. Dobson’s Secretary. The Bradley House thereafter came to be known as Yesteryear, a popular restaurant that did business there for over 30 years. It was then renovated by Stephen B. Small in 1986[1]. The house entered one of the darkest chapters of Kankakee’s history when kidnappers called Small at his home posing as Kankakee City Police. The criminals claimed the Bradley House had been vandalized, luring Small out into the open where he was kidnapped and subsequently murdered[2]. Architect Ron Moline and the law firm of LaBeau, Dietcheweiler and Assoc. purchased the property, turned the house into offices, and finished the renovations started by Small in 1991. Today Bradley House is owned by Architect Gaines Hall and his wife Sharon, who purchased it in January 2005. They have returned the house to a private residence restoring both the house and stable to Wright’s original design. Plans are underway, initiated by the Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley, to transfer the house to a non-profit entity. [3]

The Magruder House at 691 South Chicago Ave.

Magruder-DeSelm House

The Magruder-DeSelm House is a Queen Anne style home at 691 South Chicago Ave. The house was built for Henry A. Magruder from plans by architect I.C. Wyckoff. Mr. Magruder was one of the founders of North Kankakee, now the Village of Bradley, an alderman from the second ward, and Mayor from 1897-1899. He made his living in the clothing store business. The house is said to have cost about $6,000 to construct. The second owner of the house was Judge Arthur W. DeSelm. It came into his possession in 1923. Judge DeSelm practiced law in Kankakee and became a county judge in 1902. The house underwent a restoration in 1987 by Mrs. Jean Alice Small who never occupied the home. It was later purchased by Don desLauriers, a well-known local artist and historian, who lived there until his death in 1997.[1] The Magruder-DeSelm House is now owned by Scott Watson and Kyle Truong of Seattle, Washington. They found the house for sale on Craigslist.org in 2003 and dreamed of moving to Kankakee and turning it into a bed and breakfast. The pair have realized that dream and the house now operates as a thriving business.[4]

The Mann House at 912 South Greenwood Ave.

Mann House

The Mann House is a Mission style home at 912 South Greenwood Ave. The house was built sometime between 1908 and 1911 for Fred Mann. Mr. Mann served as Kankakee County Clerk from 1894 to 1902, and as Mayor of Kankakee from 1907 to 1909. In private life, Mr. Mann worked in building contracting and banking. He died December 8, 1945. The Mann House has undergone renewed fame as the residence of former Illinois Governor George Ryan and his wife Lura Lynn.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Riverview Historic District: 1866-1935, Don des Lauriers & Mardene Hinton, Kankakee County Historical Society, 1997,
  2. "3 face kidnap, murder charges",The Daily Journal, Sunday, September 6, 1987.
  3. The Bradley House Website
  4. The Magruder House Website