Once, in a fit to buy an inexpensive though highly presentable company car for my practice, I came across a restored 1965 Chrysler Crown Imperial convertible. Trouble is, we live on that side of Oak Park where garages are accessible off of alleys; our alley surveys at sixteen feet (about 5.2) metres across. I thought that I’d wedge the thing in between neighbour’s fences. Something like that once happened to me on a trip into a McDonald’s near the New Jersey Turnpike, though that is quite a different story than what I’m presenting here. However, remember my previous posts about our cities being designed around the size of our automobiles – good example.
Otherwise, Oak Park has some very well kept alleys that could make great “mews” style lanes.
My previous post about Laneway Houses in Vancouver prompted a brisk walk to look at other coach houses in Oak Park. As mentioned, current Village policy has it that accessory spaces connected to garages are acceptable, water service to that accessory building is not. Further, anyone living in a building accessory to the main building on a parcel of land constitutes a second family on that parcel, or a “multi family” situation. Some very large parcels of land that historically were built with coach houses fronting onto the street have seen that land parcel subdivided over the years, so that the original coach house is officially a separate house on its own.
A recent, local newspaper story spoke of the first garage built in Oak Park. Only Oak Park would recognize such a thing, but it was built to house a fellow’s Locomobile Steamer in 1898. This was a very nouveau idea for a new fangled invention; larger houses on larger land parcels here in “distant” suburbs were more likely to have horse stables with haylofts.
There are a couple examples in Oak Park of former horse stables, with what would have been hay-lofts above. There’s undoubtedly some sort of Village ordinance in these modern times prohibiting people keeping horses on their property, though one may have as many three dogs. Fancy dog houses aside, former horse stables have either been demolished or converted into garages for cars.
There are several examples of large houses with separate “motor garage” coach houses that have access from a street. Many of these land parcels have been subdivided, so that the former coach house is a residence unto its own.
There are new garages being built in with accessory space. One client approached me about building a large garage in his backyard, an upstairs space to accommodate his 10,000 volume library collection. While it didn’t require water service, putting that much weight above a long span structure doesn’t come inexpensively. The project never got off the ground.