Home Tours 1988-2008

Vol. XIX No. 1 - SPRING 2008

In 1988, when we founded the Edgewater Historical Society, Board member Ardele Nickels encouraged us to find a way to earn funds for our projects. We discussed a number of ideas, including publishing a cookbook and giving walking tours. But Ardele suggested that we create an annual Home Tour. Because we knew about the twin homes designed by Walter Burley Griffin that were on North Magnolia, near the library, we decided to choose the Magnolia Glen area for the first tour on September 17, 1989. We then set about the task of surveying the neighborhood.

What we found was one of the oldest neighborhoods in Edgewater – Cairnduff’s addition to Edgewater. We also found in this neighborhood seven families who wanted to learn more about the history of their homes and were willing to share their home with others for a day. Next was the contact with Bethany Lutheran Church, at Thorndale and Magnolia, to arrange a starting point for the Tour.

LeRoy Blommaert offered to do the research on these homes and Thom Greene offered to create a line drawing of each house. After visiting with each home owner and taking notes, we worked together to create a brief write up about each house. Thom Greene took the lead on this. The tour was set for the third Sunday in September. Next, we began to seek support from various businesses in the community. More than 100 people attended the tour on September 17, 1989, and an annual tradition began.

Throughout the years, we have continued to arrange tours in every Edgewater neighborhood. After the tour of Magnolia Glen, we toured Edgewater Glen and the Edgewater Beach neighborhood. Surprisingly, on the day of that tour in September, the temperature reached the upper 90s.

In 1992, we toured East Andersonville; in 1993, Lakewood Balmoral; in 1994, West Andersonville; in 1995, the Rosehill neighborhood; in 1996, North Edgewater; and in 1997, Edgewater North. The 1998 Home Tour celebrated the hundred year old homes in Lakewood Balmoral, which was listed as on the National Register of Historic Places that year. In 2001, just after the event that became known as 9/11, we gathered before our tour of the Highlands of Edgewater and offered prayers for the victims of that disaster.

During the three years of 2002, 2003 and 2005, we offered a Spring Tour of Homes in the three areas of the Edgewater Beach neighborhoods. In 2002, we also toured the Edgewater Triangle neighborhood and thus completed touring every neighborhood in Edgewater – 14 in all. Since then, we’ve returned to many neighborhoods and found over 100 people willing to share their homes and the history of their neighborhood.

We could never have raised the funds that began our building project without the support of these generous homeowners and our wonderful volunteer tour guides. On our 20th anniversary, please accept our thanks.