Edgewater Teaser #12

Vol. XXI No. 2 - SUMMER 2010

In the last issue we asked “Where was the Edgewater Athletic Club?”

The question was prompted by a photograph that was brought to our attention. The photograph is from the Chicago Daily News digital archives, available on the Chicago History Museum website. It clearly labels the scene as the Edgewater Athletic Club and it shows the lake – or at least a lake. Nothing on Edgewater’s shoreline today remotely resembles this building. Was it built and then demolished? Because it is a sizeable building, this would appear unlikely, but stranger things have happened. Or was it some other Edgewater – not our Edgewater.

A search of the Chicago Tribune archives and the records of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds solved the mystery… but not completely. The Edgewater Athletic Club was organized in Edgewater sometime in the early to mid 1920s. Its first club house was a single family home at 5815 N. Sheridan, which had been built for Charles K. Offeld in 1913. The club purchased the home in April 1927 but, before that, in August 1924 to be exact, the Club purchased the two vacant lots just north of Ardmore, also on the east side of Sheridan. In January 1928, an announcement was made that the club would build a new structure on that site – a grand multi-story building designed by architect Paul Gerhardt to cost 1.8 million dollars. Ground was actually broken for the new building on April 5, 1928, at the northeast corner of Sheridan and Ardmore.

So was the building in the picture built there? No, it wasn’t. Apparently nothing was built there – at least not in the 1920s, as no permit was found. So where then was the building in the photo?

If you guessed “Rogers Park,” you’d be right. A further article revealed that shortly after the Edgewater Athletic Club was founded, another athletic club was organized – the North Shore Athletic Club. In late 1928 or early 1929 it had purchased the Sherwin Hotel at 1205 W. Sherwin for its use. The two clubs merged with the officers of the original Edgewater Athletic Club resigning. However, rather than using the North Shore Athletic club name as the name of the new organization – which was more geographically inclusive, and therefore made more sense – for some reason, they kept the Edgewater Athletic Club name, even though the club no longer had its facility in Edgewater.

The new club announced grand plans, including adding two stories. The first four floors were to be devoted to athletics and the top eight stories would be used for apartment suites for members. A swimming pool was contemplated as well. We don’t know how much remodeling was actually done, but we know that the two floors were never added.

We don’t know what happened to the club. Presumably it fell victim to the Great Depression, like so many organizations and businesses. The building still exists, however, looking on the outside very much like it did in the 1929 photo. It still has its own private beach. However, rather than being a hotel or an athletic club, it is a condominium building – Sherwin-on-the-Lake, having been converted in 1979.

Though the original club and its short-lived successor have long passed into obscurity, the name lives on. The Edgewater Athletic Club is now the name of the athletic club run by Derek DeLapp at the Sovereign Apartments, 1020 W. Granville. It has no lakefront beach, but it does have an Olympic size-swimming pool and the latest exercise equipment and, like its predecessor, it has members. The difference is that they do not have an ownership interest. And of course, its name again accurately reflects where it is!

New Teaser: What other Edgewater institution later moved to Rogers Park?