West Andersonville Home Tour

Vol. X No. 3 - FALL 1999

The West Andersonville area will be featured in the Edgewater Historical Society’s 1999 Home Tour on Sunday, September 26th from 12 noon until 5 p.m. The tour will focus on the northern half of the community which extends from Foster to Bryn Mawr, Ashland to Ravenswood. West Andersonville today is really located just north of the original Andersonville which shows up on several early maps as a community along the Chicago Northwestern rail line south of Foster. The first area of development in West Andersonville was around Foster Avenue, once called West 59th Street. The name it was given was Mount Pleasant. The second section to be developed was called Summerdale Park by Louis Henry.

The history of this area and its development is tied to the Chicago Northwestern Railroad development which occurred in the 1850’s. Prior to the building of the railroads there was land acquisition. Whole sections of Chicago and its outlying areas were bought up by investors in the railroads. When Rosehill Cemetery was developed by Chicago’s first mayor, William Ogden, and others it was important that it be connected to a railroad line. Along with Ogden some of these investors had purchased the land for the railroad line which first ran on the ground right in front of the East entrance to the cemetery. Since Summerdale was an early community along the rail line, it was given a stop at what is now Berwyn Avenue. Although a few homes were built in these early years, the area was known for its green houses and truck farms. Truck farmers brought their vegetables to market via wagons driven along Clark Street, then called Green Bay Road.

Summerdale and Summerdale Park were subdivided sections of the area but apparently little salesmanship was used to attract people to live there. There was little employment to be found so in those days before people went long distances to work there would be little reason to move there. However, there were some jobs, stone cutters for the cemetery, blacksmiths, saloon keepers and eventually construction. The Andersonville School was built at the corner of Foster, between Clark and Ashland in the 1850’s. The town of Lakeview was founded in 1859. Andersonville was incorporated into that town.

Years later, in 1889, the citizens of that town voted to become a part of the city of Chicago. That annexation triggered real development in West Andersonville through the efforts of Charles Rascher who moved to Summerdale Park, built a home there and began selling lots.