One of the best-known unique houses of Chicago was the House of Crosses, just off Ashland on Chestnut.

Edwin Szewczyk lived here alone and began decorating his house with crosses in 1979.

Saints, film stars and local politicians mingle with mottoes, crests, swords and crosses on the walls of the house.

Despite the apperance of clutter, the artist was obviously interested in symmetry and order.

Other than a brief stint in the service, Mr. Szewczyk never left home. He lived with his parents until they died, then stayed here alone with over a dozen cats. He didn't come outside much, and would pull the blinds when inquisitive visitors came to photograph the house. He wasn't interested in talking to strangers.

At one point his brother came to live with him, and stayed in the carriage house at the back of the lot, also decorated with crosses. After the brother passed away however, the artist closed up the carriage house for good. His sister, too, came to live with him when she needed care, and passed away in time.

Finally, in 2004, Mr. Szewczyk himself died, leaving his mysterious house and a few stray cats as his legacy.

In Spring 2007, many of the crosses and the staircase on the front of the house were removed, perhaps to prepare for sale of the property. The house and especially the coach house are in poor condition and will no doubt be torn down. From the alley its easy to see places where the walls of the coach house are rotten through. In early 2007 the property was sold, but for the moment the house is still standing.

More about the House of Crosses and an interview with the creator's nephew on Weird Chicago.

Copyright 2010 Matt Bergstrom