Bryn Mawr Takes Its Bows

Vol. IX No. 1 - SPRING 1998

On July 12, 1995, Alderman Mary Ann Smith of the 48th Ward and Edgewater civic leaders cut a ribbon stretched across the street at Bryn Mawr and Sheridan and sent red, white and blue balloons skyward to mark the entry of Bryn Mawr Avenue, from the lakefront to Broadway, on the National Register of Historic Places.

The new National Historic District features some of Chicago’s best architecture from the first four decades of the 20th Century. Two of the buildings located in the District - the Edgewater Beach Apartments and the newly renovated Manor House - had already been accorded landmark status based on their own merits.

The landmarking of Bryn Mawr is an important part of a multifaceted effort by the Alderman and local groups to polish the faded luster of one of Edgewater’s historical jewels. Inspiring them is a 1930s photo of Bryn Mawr showing a tree-lined street, well kept building exteriors and spacious, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks.

The City is funding a joint venture, including local architect Thom Greene, to design a street-scaping plan for Bryn Mawr. According to Greene, the plan has been instituted thus far by widening the sidewalks and placing old fashioned street lamps along the street. Further innovations will include planting of more trees and street corner gardens and a landscaped gateway at Bryn Mawr and the lakefront.

Besides the obvious prestige and recognition, the landmark designation also brings with it numerous tax credits for rehabbing buildings. Developer Peter Holsten is currently in the process of rehabbing the 190-unit Belle Shore Apartments at 1062 West Bryn Mawr Avenue and work is scheduled to begin soon on the 231-unit Bryn Mawr Apartments at 5550 North Kenmore Avenue.

The effort for Historic District designation was conceived by community residents and carried out by a partnership of local groups, businesses and city agencies. Task force members included the Edgewater Community Council, the Edgewater Development Corporation and the East Edgewater Chamber of Commerce.

The Edgewater Beach Apartments, Manor House, Edgewater Presbyterian Church, Tudor Manor, the Bryn Mawr and Belle Shore Apartments, the Edgewater Historical Society and private citizens all helped to persuade authorities that the area belonged on the National Historic Register.

The article on page 6, "Bryn Mawr Remembered," aptly demonstrates the avid conviction of Edgewater community residents that preserving and protecting our historical legacy is a worthy endeavor, the successful end for which Bryn Mawr truly takes its bows.