Edgewater Teaser #13

Vol. XXI No. 3 - Winter 2010

In last month’s issue we asked “What other Edgewater institution moved to Rogers Park.”

This was not a very difficult teaser. The answer is: The Edgewater Golf Club.

The Edgewater Golf Club was one of the earliest non-religious Edgewater organizations to be formed. It was formed by five Edgewater residents no later than August 1897. One of the five was Edgewater’s first architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee. It was he that Edgewater founder John Lewis Cochran selected to design the Guild Hall and the first Edgewater homes in his new subdivision. According to a 1950s source, the golf course was west of Broadway between Foster and Balmoral; according to an August 15, 1897 Chicago Tribune account it was a 7-hole course on between 40 and 45 acres and was intersected by roads.

The Edgewater Golf Club did not remain long in Edgewater. An item in the January 16, 1898, issue of the Chicago Tribune indicates that “A. T. Galt has leased to the Edgewater Golf Club at a nominal rental an eighty acre tract of land at the north west corner of Devon and Evanston avenues, Edgewater. The property will be improved and the club will build a clubhouse. The lease is for three years with the privilege of a long term if the property remains unsold.” Though the article indicates the new property as being in Edgewater, we know that it was just across the border in Rogers Park. The area was largely vacant at the time. The Jesuits did not purchase the land for what became Loyola University until much later, and the first campus building was not dedicated until 1909.

In September 1901 a fire broke out in the club house causing a reported $3,000 damage, mostly in the women’s locker rooms. It would have been much worse but for the club mascot, a dog named Jack, that woke the caretaker upon the start of the fire. The club house was rebuilt and enlarged, though it still remained a relatively modest affair as shown in Figure 2. In this it was not very different from most other clubs at the time. Interestingly in 1901 John Lewis Cochran was listed at the club’s president. He was probably one of the original founders too.

Though the area around the club grounds remained largely vacant for a time, things started to change with the coming of the “L” in May 1908. Residents complained that the club had illegally blocked` off public property and that it required residents to walk out of their way to get to the new Hayes Ave (Loyola Ave) “L” station. The club officers apparently saw the “handwriting on the wall” and began to look for a new location far away from encroaching development. The June 15, 1910, issue of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Club purchased 87.06 acres of land from seven parties for a total of $125, 543. The property began at the south east corner of Western and Pratt and continued south to almost Arthur and east almost to Ridge Ave. At the time this land was far from any development.

The club opened at its new location in June 1911. Edgewater architect J.E.O. Pridmore was listed as one of its members. Though an earlier issue of the Chicago Tribune showed a sketch of an elaborate new club house designed by the architectural firm of Holabird and Roche, the commission went to the firm of Hill & Woltersdorf. This is the same firm that designed the brick house at 6018 N. Kenmore, the source of so much controversy in 2007-08. The new club house was much more elaborate than the earlier club house. See Figure 3. The previous site of the course was subdivided, and two-flat buildings were being built as early as June 1912.

The Edgewater Golf Club achieved a national reputation primarily because of the renown of one of its members, Chick Evans, who won many competitions. It was also the site of many tournaments

In August 1965 the club received an unsolicited offer for its property and on August 15, the members voted to accept the offer, which was for $7,600,000. The club shut its doors soon afterwards, and a resulting battle ensued on how the land would be developed – or not developed. On one side were those who wanted it developed for commercial and residential use; on the other side were some residents in the three communities of Northtown, Rogers Park and Edgewater who wanted the land to become a public park. In this case, the “open lands” side won out and today the land formerly occupied by the Edgewater Golf Club is Warren Park—named after Lawrence Warren, president of the North Town Community Council, who led the effort to preserve the land for public use. Ironically, part of Warren Park is today a 9 hole golf course.

Sources: For commission of club house in Rogers Park: The Architectural Record, July-December 1915, Vol. XXXVIII (38), p. 222 & ff; Chicago Tribune

Addendum:  Click here for a list of members in 1897.  List taken from a document of the same year advertising the club’s second tournament.

Teaser (14)

What is the story behind this structure at 5755-57 N. Ridge?