From the President

Vol. XII No. 3 - WINTER 2001

By: Kathy Gemperle

In the months following the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon we have had moments of grief and reflection. If it is not more clear now why anyone could hate us so much we at least have had the opportunity to examine and appreciate America’s actions in the world and understand more about their implications.

Chicago and Edgewater were spared from these horrific events. There was an eerie silence in the skies when the planes stopped flying overhead. From my classroom at the top of St. Gregory High School students were quick to monitor the high rises along the lake shore and the Sears Tower. Happily there was no devastation here. But it did not lessen our grief as we continued dazed and distressed by the sight of mass murder on television.

A few short days after the attack we held our 13th annual home tour in the Highlands of Edgewater. It was a beautiful day and just over 100 people attended. Thanks especially to home owners Pat and Garrett Meade, Marie and Frank Duffy, Julie and Michael Studier, Cathy and Richard Pearlman and Diane Rosario. Thanks to Lorraine and Carl Helbig for hosting the beginning of the tour. It was a special day for all of us who worked together. We had an opportunity to share what is wonderful about our community and our country. In many ways that sharing consoled us.

Then on Nov. 3rd we had another wonderful event with LeRoy Blommaert’s presentation of the slide program, “The Last Days of the Edgewater Beach Hotel”. A packed house at the Edgewater Library listened to Big Band music while watching slides of the famous hotel. During a break in the program audience members shared their recollections including some comments from Sister Rosemary Dewey, daughter of the original manager, William Dewey and from Carole Hilkin who worked in the office for Mr. Dewey. Another gentleman who worked at the hotel in the last days said he came to the program just to see what the place looked like in its hey day.

The second part of the program traced the demolition of the hotel for an entire year. Mr. Blommaert took photos from different positions around the building through four seasons. It is amazing that the loss of that building should still evoke so much memory. In a way each personal experience of the hotel is a moment in time that each person returns to whenever it is mentioned or photos shown. The photos hold more than the image for they are a connecting point to many more memories of the hotel.

Care to share your memories of the Edgewater Beach Hotel? Just write a paragraph or two and send it to me. We are looking for descriptions of rooms and events. We often hear about Proms and dances held there but never a word about the event beyond the fact that it happened. Is there anyone who can start at the front door and take us through the space to the dance floor? If you prefer to reach us by email go to the WEB site at

On Dec. 3rd WTTW broadcast a special program “Magic By the Lake” about the Edgewater Beach Hotel in its glory days. I hope you watched the broadcast. EHS Board members were there answering the pledge lines. You may have seen me there with my glasses on the end of my nose.

As winter draws near we are thankful for a warm November and the still blooming flowers—no frost. It seems that winter has been shortened by one month. Many of the corner gardens continue to look interesting with wild flower seed and ornamental kale. Ridge Avenue has been repaired and is enhanced with new traffic calming brickwork along the cross walks at the intersections. Drivers rolling over this hear a change of sound and feel the different texture. Thanks

Alderman Smith for your efforts to make the drivers on Ridge Avenue aware that they are driving in a neighborhood, not on an expressway.

Demolitions and proposed demolitions continue to threaten the historic profile of our community. The character of an historic block of buildings built before 1930 can be destroyed by these selective demolitions. Furthermore, when a community has this profile of mixed housing, with single family homes and two flats, three flats and 6 flats in this 70 year old era it is terribly destructive to replace the least dense housing with more density. In John Lewis Cochran’s first Edgewater developments from the lake to Broadway, Foster to Devon fewer than 5% of the original single family homes remain. These homes should be protected where ever possible as part of the living history of our community. If no mansions remain then our collective memory will be erased.

The Board of Directors of the Edgewater Historical Society has taken the position to oppose all demolitions of single family homes in the area bounded by Foster, the lake, Broadway and Devon unless a review of the history of the property convinces us otherwise. We encourage all who support this position to make their support known to Alderman Smith and Alderman Moore. The Board will review each property in a timely manner.

As the holidays draw near we are reassured that the Museum project will move forward. We have signed two contracts, one for the windows and one for the interior work on the second floor. We are awaiting a bid on the first floor and front entrance. Your financial support is important to us. Recent donations of about $500 have helped. The water and heat are turned off so that no funds are wasted while we wait for the work to be scheduled. Give your neighborhood historical society a gift this holiday or sometime after. Remember that a $100 donation will assure your name in the Museum.

Have a nice holiday.