About the Edgewater Historical Society

The Edgewater Historical Society was founded in January of 1988 to:

  • involve the community in the research, documentation, collection and preservation of Edgewater History;
  • promote the study, sharing and enjoyment of that history; and
  • promote the preservation of landmarks and historical structures.

The impetus to form the Society was the 1986 celebration of the Edgewater Centennial, during which the Edgewater Community Council conducted an oral history project. From that project grew a great interest in researching and documenting neighborhood streets and structures. Click here for a more detailed story of our history.

The Edgewater Historical Society operates the Museum pictured above (see the list of exhibits at the left) and conducts a Home Tour every year. Please check our Calendar for the complete list of events. There is also a short list of upcoming events/tours at the left. Click here to see past Annual Reports.


The Edgewater Historical Society is governed by a board of directors consisting of up to 21 members. At least one third of the positions are up for election by the membership every year at the annual meeting of the Society. The term of office is three years. During the year, vacant positions may be filled by the Board of Directors, and a person so elected fills the remaining term of a board member who resigned or died.

The officers of the society are elected by the board of directors at its first meeting after the general membership meeting and serve for one year or until their successors are elected. Since its founding in 1988, the Society has had only four presidents: Kathy Gemperle, Betty Mayian, Robert Remer and John Holden.

Our Community

Edgewater is a Chicago community of 58,000 people in an area bounded by the Lake, Foster, Ravenswood and Devon. The name Edgewater originated with developer John L. Cochran, who began creating a planned community here in 1886. By 1910, the name Edgewater was being used throughout the area. Today, Edgewater is composed of several neighborhoods including Andersonville.

Land Acknowledgment

The Edgewater Historical Society acknowledges that the land upon which its Museum operates, and the Edgewater Community Area within the City of Chicago that is the focus of the Society’s mission, is located on the traditional homelands of Indigenous peoples, including those of the Council of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomie Nations.

The Edgewater Historical Society was founded in 1988 for the purpose of involving the community in the research, documentation, collection, preservation and presentation of Edgewater history. Although the Edgewater name was first used in 1885, there is no restriction on how far back in time research can go to understand the community’s origins, especially if it contributes to understanding of the present and planning for the future.

Exploring and understanding this history, including tribal cultures and institutions and the government policies that directly affected and continue to touch these populations, is an important part of Edgewater’s past, present, and future. Evidence of the Indigenous past is seen all around us in an arterial street pattern that incorporates historic Native footpaths. The Lake Michigan water highway – the name itself from the Ojibwe word mishigamaa, meaning “large water” – is the community’s eastern boundary within the city, supplying the “water” in “Edgewater.”

Our Logo

The Edgewater Historical Society logo below represents the four-mile electric railway which Cochran built in 1893 to connect his Edgewater community to Diversey Avenue in Chicago. It also illustrates the style of the word Edgewater which Cochran used in his newspaper ads for the new community.

The Edgewater Historical Society

Our Newsletter

The Edgewater Scrapbook is our quarterly newsletter. The Edgewater Historical Society website contains the text of nearly every article published in Scrapbook newsletters since 1988. Join us as a valued member to receive the printed newsletter containing all articles and associated photographs.

In the News and Reviews

  • “Gallery Spotlight: Edgewater Historical Society & Museum” in Chicago Art Magazine
  • Mary Schmich wrote an article about the Edgewater Living Treasures exhibit for the June 22/23, 2013 Sunday Chicago Tribune
  • “One Fine Day,” another Chicago Tribune article.
  • “History, Grown Locally,” another Chicago Tribune article.

Our Website

This website requires a screen resolution of at least 800x600 (1024x768 recommended) and is best viewed using the most current version of Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. You should be able to use older or other web browsers, but the formatting might not always be correct. Some features on the website (e.g., slideshows) will not operate if Javascript is disabled.

The symbol next to a link indicates the link is to an “external” website. Although we make every effort to keep these links accurate and up to date, we cannot take responsibility for pages maintained by external providers. If you notice an external link that does not work, please report it via “Contact us” above.

The symbol next to a link indicates the link opens a PDF file. There are many advantages to the PDF format, such as bookmarks and the ability to zoom in/out, but you must have a PDF reader (such as Adobe Reader) installed on your computer or tablet in order to view a PDF file. The Adobe reader is available here.