The Robert L. Smart residence at 817 N. Oakley Avenue is a highly significant structure that is a contributing landmark in Waukegan’s Near North Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places (listed May 3, 1978). The iconic home portrays a significant value as part of the historic, heritage or cultural characteristics of the community. The residence is also identified with a person who significantly contributed to the development of the community. The residence is also representative of the distinguishing characteristics of Princess Anne architecture inherently valuable for the study of a period, type, method of construction and use of indigenous materials.
The home was constructed circa 1897, which has architectural as well as cultural significance to the community. Architecturally, it is one of the few intact examples of Princess Anne homes. By 1900, the exuberant “Queen Anne style” was being replaced by more austere and restrained architectural forms. However, significant Queen Anne influence remained. Smaller examples, less complicated in form and less decorated than their antecedents are today often referred to as the “Princess Anne” style. This house is one of the few examples left with its original staircase with ornate wood design and an original chandelier that was installed when electricity was first retrofitted in the home. Original nine-inch baseboards can be found throughout, along with original transom windows above all bedroom doors.
The house is also identified as the home of Robert L. Smart, who had a significant and positive influence in the development of the City of Waukegan. As the Street Commissioner for Waukegan, he was responsible for transforming the dirt roads throughout the city and overseeing the construction of sewer lines throughout Waukegan. Robert L. Smart was also an entrepreneur as the owner of Federal Bakery which was located at 309 Washington Street in Waukegan.