Mildred Brost Merrill - Edgewater Resident for 93 years
By: Steve Meiss
Mildred Merrill was six weeks old when she moved with her parents into the brand new yellow brick two-flat at 1242 West Hood Avenue in Edgewater. That was in 1910. Today at the age of 92, she continues to live on the second floor and probably holds Edgewater’s unofficial record for living in the same house for the longest time.
Her family was the first to occupy the imposing structure, built by Mildred’s great- uncle, Peter Brost, a German immigrant who developed real estate in Edgewater at the turn of the century. Brest’s crew built 1242 West Hood, three other two flats immediately adjacent to 1242, and at least three six flats in the 1200 block of Granville. All of these sturdy brick structures stand proudly today, monuments to the old world craftsmanship (hat is prevalent throughout Edgewater.
Prior to going into the real estate development business, Peter Brost worked with his brother Nicholas, Mildred’s great grandfather in the house moving business. Nicholas’ life came to a tragic end when he was knocked into the Chicago River and drowned while moving a house across the river.
Mildred grew up in 1242 Hood in a family which would eventually include eight children. She began attending St. Gertrude’s school at the age of four. She remembers playing jacks in the vestibule on rainy days and roller skating on the newly paved street on sunny days. She saw groceries delivered by Bornhofen’s and milk delivered from a horse drawn wagon. On hot summer nights, it was common to find residents of the neighborhood sleeping on the front or back porch of their homes.
In 1934 Mildred was married and moved out of 1242 West Hood. With her new husband, Harold Merrill, she took up residence in an apartment on Rosemont. They returned to the two flat on Hood in 1941, moving into the second floor apartment where, over the course of some thirty years, they raised their five children who also attended St. Gertrude’s. Mildred’s parents continued to occupy the first floor. Eventually, Harold and Mildred purchased the building from her mother.
In the 1950s Mildred says that she and her husband briefly considered moving to the suburbs like thousands of other Chicago families, but decided against it. Today she is pleased that they made the decision to stay in Edgewater.
Harold Merrill died in 1980 and Mildred continued to rent out the first floor apartment as they had done since the death of her mother in the mid 1970s. Mildred’s last tenants were Steve Meiss and Shirley Burton. They moved into the first floor apartment in the Fall of 1984. In late 1989, Steve and Shirley purchased the building from Mildred and they continue to occupy the first floor. As part of the transaction, Mildred signed a lease on her second floor apartment. There, she happily resides today leading an active life in Edgewater just as she has done for the past 92 years, all of them except seven, in the two flat at 1242 W. Hood.