Vol. XX No. 2 - SUMMER 2009

In the last issue of the Scrapbook (Spring 2009) we asked “What is the story behind this unusual structure at 1671 W. Hollywood.” It is obviously not the usual Edgewater house.

An examination of the City of Chicago permit files reveals that a permit for a store and residence, 16 ft in width, 50 feet in length and 20 feet in height was issued November 5, 1914, to a Mrs. G. Dickey, at 14 W. 65th St. A final inspection report was prepared January 7, 1915.

A search of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds track book for the property reveals that it did not remain in Mrs. Dickey’s control for very long; she sold it in April 1915 to a Charles P. Caldwell. The City Directory for 1915 lists a Charles P. Caldwell but shows him as a physician and living not at 1671 Hollywood but on South Michigan Ave. The property changed hands two more times in rapid succession.

Then, in February 1917, it was sold to a Herbert E. Johnson. The 1917 City Directory shows a Herbert E. Johnson living at 1671 Hollywood but gives his occupation as a Post Office Clerk. Presumably, the store portion was not given over to this occupation. Hence, the use of the store remains unknown up to this point.

The 1920 census shows that the building was occupied by an Alex Wikelund, age 31, his wife Henrietta, age 29, and their two young children. His occupation was given as tinsmith and his place of work was a “tinshop.” He was shown as a renter. This matches the information in the Cook County Record of Deeds Tract book which showed that an Alex R. Wikelund entered into an agreement with the owner in October 1918 and purchased the property in August 1920.

It is not until the 1930 census that we learn that the store was used as a grocery. The 1930 census shows the building was occupied by Edwin Brandfellner. Edwin died in 1939.

The 1955 reverse telephone directory shows an A. Murtagh as a business listing but there is no indication as to the type of business. Fortunately a neighbor provided a lead – Mary Garrity, a cousin of A. Murtagh, who advised that two sisters operated a convenience store at the location. They were Alice and Margaret Murtagh.

Alice lived across the street with their aunt and Margaret lived in the back of the store. The store was called “Margarets” and it sold items – milk, eggs, bread and, most important to the children of the neighborhood: candy. The Cook County Recorder of Deeds Tract book shows that Alice Murtagh bought the property in January 1950 and sold it in July 1972. It was at that time that the building was presumably converted to a single family residence.

Storefront buildings such as 1671 W. Hollywood were not unusual in many Chicago neighborhoods. However, in Edgewater they are rare. Most buildings devoted to a commercial use were built on Broadway, Clark, Devon and sections of Ridge and east of the “L” on Granville, Thorndale, Bryn Mawr and Berwyn, though there were a few exceptions: 1671 W. Hollywood being one of them. Had Chicago’s first zoning ordinance been in effect in 1914, the storefront would probably not have been allowed.

Since our last issue, the current owner put a new front on the building. We think all would agree it is an improvement over the former façade.

Thanks to Jeff Pavia, Nancy Sullivan and Mary Garrity for their assistance in enabling the author to write the final chapter of the building’s use as a store.