Home Tour - 1991

Vol. IV No. 1 - SUMMER/FALL 1991

By: Kathryn Gemperle

Homes along the shoreline, beginning at Ardmore and Kenmore and continuing up to Devon, were featured in EHS’ third annual Home Tour on September 15, 1991. The afternoon was full of surprises for tourgoers!

Four of the remaining mansions on Sheridan Road were opened that Sunday, just for the EHS tour. While many in Edgewater visit the two mansions at Berger Park for meetings, classes and events, this tour provided an opportunity to learn about the history and architecture of the impressive buildings. Thanks to Loyola University, the two mansions at Mundelein College were very welcome additions to our list of homes for the tour.

The first Mundelein mansion, known as the “yellow house,” was designed by George W. Maher and boasts beautiful Prairie/Sullivanesque detailing on the exterior. Piper Hall, a work of art in itself, allowed tourists a nice respite from the city. As temperatures soared into the nineties, the cool lake breeze provided some relief.

Sadly, none of these mansions are now occupied by private owners, so the ambiance of interior decoration was missing. But the other lovely homes on the tour more than made up for this.

The tour began at the Church of the Atonement, built by William Prettyman and Henry Ives Cobb in 1889 and later remodeled by J.E.O. Pridmore. Pridmore’s son and daughter-in-law joined us for the day and brought along information from the family history! Pridmore, who lived on Winthrop, designed several apartment buildings in Edgewater, including the Manor House, but specialized in church and theater architecture.

A unique feature of the tour at the Church, directed by John Toman, was a visit to the “well-traveled” Elizabethan Room which originated in England, was shipped to a home in Connecticut in the 1690s and donated to the church in 1970.

The Colfax home on Kenmore was the first “house” stop for many. Built as a two-flat in 1905, it was later converted to a single-family home by its second owners, John and Donna Crowley. Mr. Crowley was president of the Uptown National Bank from 1963 until 1971. His wife was an artists’ model and also did modeling (especially of hats) for Marshall Field’s. In fact the store named the “Crowley Hat” specially for her. Of course, now we want to find that hat!

The tour through this home was a real treat with Mary’s photo exhibit, collections and interior design, and the excellent rehab work done by Bill and son Adam Colfax. The hidden surprise at the Colfax’s was the original house number, dating prior to the 1909 uniform numbering system, etched in glass above the front door.

Mike and Mindy Hecht’s apartment on Winthrop was filled with surprises - from the altered floor plan to the original stained glass from the dining room. Built as a mirror image of the building to the south, the floor plan variations were necessitated by fire damage in 1986. In 1989, the building received the Northside Real Estate Board Award for Excellence. The Hecht’s kitchen with red countertops just beckons visitors to gather there.

Across the street, the handiwork of David and Ann Tice has transformed a long neglected house into a warm, inviting place. It was built on speculation at a cost of $2,500 by J.L. Cochran in 1895 as part of his first addition to Edgewater. The Tices excited everyone’s imagination with their home’s vibrant interior colors, stripped and refinished woodwork and incredible top-nailed inlaid floors. The sheer size of the place was amazing; it appears much smaller from the street.

A visit to the home of Mike Podpolucki and Norm Cratty was the epitome of surprises. For years Edgewater residents have viewed the little house, built in 1901, as one that the city grew up around. When he bought the place, Mike learned that it had been a coach house for the Higgins home on Kenmore. When he secured a copy of the original deed for the property, he was amazed to find it contained an allowance for the serving of alcohol! This might be due to the original zoning of the land or the public use of the carriage house.

Through research, LeRoy Blommaert was able to discover that the coach house was designed by George Washington Maher! Maher had served as J.L. Cochran’s architect and was responsible for some 40 houses in Edgewater. Only two homes and this coach house remain.

EHS wants to thank the co-chairs of the event, Thom Greene and Kathy Gemperle, those who solicited advertisements and helped produce the tour booklet, Thom Greene of Presentation Design for his sketches of the homes and the docents who guided over 100 people through history.

A special thanks to the Church of the Atonement for hosting the tour and to Joan Bradford and Everett Stetson for getting everyone off to a good start. Thanks also to the Chicago Park District at Berger Park, the North Lakeside Cultural Center and Loyola University and Mundelein College administration for arranging the tours of their buildings. Last but not least, thanks to the people who allowed their homes to be shown.