From the President

Vol. VI No. 2 - SPRING 1995

By: Kathy Gemperle

It’s been a long time since the last newsletter and the Edgewater Historical Society has been busy, busy, busy. So there are lots of activities to report on.

First and foremost is the petition drive supporting our efforts to acquire the city-owned, but vacant, fire station at 5358 N. Ashland for use as a local history museum. Neighbors have been very supportive: over 1800 signatures, in fact, were collected. We also want to thank Aldermen Patrick O’Connor and Mary Ann Smith, the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce and the West Edgewater Area Residents, Edgewater North Neighbors, Lakewood Balmoral Residents Council and West Andersonville Neighbors Together block clubs for writing letters to the city on our behalf. Alderman O’Connor’s support is particularly crucial for moving the project along.

Our Building Fund Committee put together a detailed study of the site to determine rehab needs. Now that the repair and development costs have been assessed, we are embarking on a series of fundraising initiatives. We are taking one step at a time. Nothing is certain yet, but its hard not getting excited!

Kudos to Jerry Buttimer for his super renovation of the Manor House on Bryn Mawr and for the banner out front naming EHS in his thanks to the community for its help. Since we do not yet have a museum, or even a phone listing for that matter, such a noticeable display of our name is very important in educating the public about our existence.

Last November 10, EHS board member LeRoy Bloemmart gave an excellent presentation, “Memories of the Edgewater Beach Hotel,” at our General Meeting at the North Shore Baptist Church. The presentation included slides, music and commentary. The first part of the program centered on LeRoy’s extensive Edgewater Beach Hotel postcard collection, and featured music by the Swing Bands popular during the hotel’s heyday. The second part, accompanied with music by Debussy, used slides taken by Mr. Bloemmart in 1969-70 showing the different stages of the hotel’s sad and difficult demise. Thank you, LeRoy, for sharing your memories with us!

EHS members got together at my house the afternoon of December 11 for a festive holiday party. Everyone brought a dish to share and helped trim the tree. A good time was had by all!

For more than 50 years, starting in 1926, people traveled from the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago, across seven states, to Santa Monica, CA on Route 66. On February 4, 1995, attendees of Tom Teague’s illustrated lecture, “Searching For 66,” found out how tens of thousands of people from around the world continue to search for and celebrate Route 66. Mr. Teague is the founder of the Route 66 Association of Illinois. The event was co-sponsored by the Edgewater, Irving Park, Norwood Park and Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Societies.

EHS Vice President Martha Kraeger and her husband John represented EHS at the first ever meeting of the Chicago North Side Historical Society Alliance on February 9. This group was newly formed by the Edgebrook, Edgewater, Irving Park, Norwood Park, Ravenswood-Lakeview and Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Societies for the purpose of exchanging ideas.

The Edgewater Community Council completed its move down the street and invited everyone to visit its new facilities at 1042 W. Bryn Mawr for an Open House on March 24. ECC has graciously accorded us display space and the exhibits will be changed on a bimonthly basis. Please stop by for a look.

With ECC’s move, that means the mailing address for EHS has also changed to 1042 W. Bryn Mawr. But while ECC’s telephone number remains 334-5609, EHS has a brand new one: 907-1872. When EHS VP Thom Greene and his colleague Rick Proppe renamed their architectural firm to Greene & Proppe Design, Inc., and relocated to 1209 W. Berwyn in June, they allowed EHS to install dedicated voice mail on one of their open lines. The voice mail is checked regularly. Thanks, Thom and Rick, congrats on the new digs and happy 15th anniversary!

Thanks to Carl Helbig, the special guest speaker at our Annual General Meeting on March 25, 1995 at the Edgewater Branch Library was limnologist Frank A. Pranschke. Thank you, Frank, for a most interesting presentation, “Lake Chicago, Lake Michigan, Our Ancient Shoreline” (see article on page 8).

On the very same day, March 25, EHS Vice President G. Mark Harding was presented with the 1995 Harold Blake Walker Volunteer of the Year Award by Christopher House at a black tie dinner at the Palmer House. Mark has volunteered for Christopher House at its Lakeside and Uptown sites for over 14 years. During that time he logged more than 15,000 volunteer hours while providing consistent, exemplary service to the children there. His kindness, honesty and friendliness have made him a favorite with both children and staff.

Mr. Harding received personal letters of congratulation from Alderman Mary Ann Smith and Senator Carol Moseley-Braun and a formal proclamation of March 25.1995 as “Christopher House Salutes Mark Harding Day” in Illinois from Governor Jim Edgar. Way to go, Mark!

From April 7 through May 12, the North Lakeside Cultural Center presented Edgewater-Rogers Park: Then & Now, an exhibit of historic photographs and contemporary art featuring people and scenes of Edgewater and Rogers Park. Both the Edgewater and Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Societies contributed photographs for this special exhibition.

Thanks to Bob Remer, the great guest speakers at our Spring Benefit Brunch at NLCC on May 6 were co-authors Scott Holingue and Kenan Heise, who introduced us to their new book, Tales from an Urban Wilderness Special thanks to the Swedish Bakery for the delicious rolls. Andies Restaurant for the great hummus, super quiche queen - JoAnn Varga Holmes, other chefs - Marie Morrissette. Martha Kraeger and Marion Lettner, Sandee Remis - who set up the silent auction. John Kraeger - who set up the cozy dining arrangement and the other “helping hands” who made the day just perfect!

On July 12, 1995, our community celebrated official designation of landmark status for the Bryn Mawr Historic District, covering Bryn Mawr from Broadway to Lake Shore Drive. We’ll give more details in the next issue of the Edgewater Scrapbook.

EHS extends our happiest anniversary congratulations to the Conrad Sulzer Regional Library (10th). Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society (20th), Edgewater Community Council (35th) and Ravenswood-Lake View Historical Association (60th)!

Our Seventh Annual Home Tour on Sunday, September 17, from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m., will feature the Rosehill area, spanning several decades of architecture from the 1890s forward, and the East Gatehouse, Civil War Museum and Horatio N. May Chapel at Rosehill Cemetery. The starting point will be the East Gatehouse of the cemetery at 5800 N. Ravenswood. The event will include a silent auction and the Fireside Restaurant has graciously offered to be our “rest stop” for refreshments. Mark your calendar and let us know if you can help on that date.

The Home Tour is our major annual fundraiser. Please support the event by your attendance: tickets are $10.00 each, but members paying by September 10 will receive a $2.00 discount! Funds go toward development of the society’s collections and production of this lovely newsletter.

The North Lakeside Cultural Center and the Edgewater Historical Society recently combined resources for a joint raffle to benefit both organizations. Major prizes are: 1st - an American Airlines trip for two anywhere in the continental U.S.; 2nd - one week in a condo in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: 3rd - use of the NLCC mansion for a 3 hour party; 4th - a Candlelight Dinner Theater show for two; 5th - tickets for a party of 8 at Zanies Comedy Club.

Other prizes include a house portrait by architect Thom Greene, CDs signed by Corky Siegel and gift certificates from Above Board (sporting goods), First Cousins (children’s boutique), Hino and Malee Boutique (women’s apparel), Swedish Bakery, Ann Sather, Fireside Restaurant, Russian Tea Cafe and Sesi’s Seaside Cafe. Chances are $1.00 each or $10.00 for a book of 12. The drawing will take place after the close of the EHS Home Tour on September 17, at the east entrance of Rosehill. Our portion of the proceeds will go toward the Building Fund.

What an exciting year!