Lakewood Balmoral in 2005

Vol. XVI No. 2 - SUMMER 2005

Lakewood Balmoral is John Lewis Cochran’s Third addition to the community he named Edgewater. In the first five years of the 21st century, many of the original homes have passed their 100 year anniversary.

The history of Edgewater dates back to 1885, when Cochran purchased the land along the lakeshore from Foster to Bryn Mawr and began his development. There are just seven original homes in that first Edgewater section. In the next five years, Cochran added the land north to Thorndale and then north to Devon. In those sections, there are a total of eight original homes in what has become a dense neighborhood of apartments. Since the year 2000, there have been 10 demolitions of historic homes in the original Edgewater.

In 1890, Cochran was able to purchase the land that stood between Broadway and Glenwood from Foster to Bryn Mawr. It was owned by E. Kellogg Beach, the son of John H. Beach of Auburn, New York. Apparently, the elder Beach owned the land but did not live on it. He had a milling business in Auburn. Before his death in 1839, he signed the property over to his sons.

Cochran developed the area in stages, putting in roads and sewers on Magnolia and Lakewood first and building several homes as models. Most of the oldest homes were built on the blocks at the north section of the area. The first houses were built on Magnolia in 1892. Over the next 12 years, the number of homes built gradually increased. Around 1896-97, Wayne Avenue was paved and lots sold. Cochran waited until 1905 to sell lots on Glenwood. By that time, he had adjusted his plan to allow three-flats along with two-flats on Glenwood.

Among the architects who worked for Cochran was George Washington Maher who, after a few years, in the late 1880s set up his own practice. He was a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright who also worked for J.L. Cochran in the early years.

Other architects of homes in Lakewood Balmoral include Neils Buck, who was responsible for more than 10 Lakewood Balmoral homes. Buck lived on the 5300 block of Kenmore. Julius Huber lived on the 5500 block of Lakewood and was responsible for at least six Lakewood Balmoral homes. Architectural firms like Holabird and Roche, Leon Stanhope Murphy and Camp, Strippleman and Carl Almquist designed unique homes in the area. The actual builders (general contractors and carpenters) were part of the original Swedish community, with names like Carlson, Olson and Osterlund. There are at least 10 Lakewood Balmoral homes listed as potential landmarks by the City of Chicago Historic Resource Survey.

This year’s tour will begin at the Unity Lutheran Church, which is celebrating its 100 year anniversary. The church began at a storefront on Argyle in 1905. The first building constructed on the site was the Sunday School Chapel on Balmoral in 1906. A member and architect, Ivar Viehe-Naess, was the architect of that building and the large church building at the corner of Balmoral and Magnolia in 1917.

There will be tours of the church in addition to the interior tours of the homes in Lakewood Balmoral. Mark your calendar for a wonderful community event that supports the operation of the Edgewater Historical Society Museum.