2005 - Lakewood Balmoral

2005 Fall Tour of Homes
Lakewood Balmoral
September 18, 2005

Welcome to the 17th Annual Edgewater Historical Society Home Tour

Editor’s note: To respect the privacy of the homeowners while making the historical information available for research, most names and street addresses have been removed from the online version of the “tour booklet.” The original printed booklets are all available at the Edgewater Historical Society Museum.

Text and some images for this online “tour booklet” were copied from the printed booklet. Copyright © 2005 Edgewater Historical Society.

For individual home descriptions, select an address at the left.

Cochran’s Third Addition to Edgewater

In 1885, John Lewis Cochran, a tobacco salesman from Philadelphia, purchased a plot of land bordered by the lake, Foster (West 59th Street) on the south, Bryn Mawr on the north and Broadway (Evanston Avenue) on the west. He then announced the development of a new suburb he called Edgewater. Over the next five years he made additions to this development and extended it eventually north to Devon. As he added blocks to his development, he named the streets for the Main Line train stops of suburbs outside of Philadelphia: Berwyn, Balmoral, Claremont, Bryn Mawr, Ardmore, Thorndale and Rosemont. Besides putting in streets, alleys, stone sidewalks, landscaped parkways with trees and sewer and water connections, Cochran also brought in such modern developments as electricity. He then began to advertise his development in the Chicago newspapers. In order to make Edgewater a suburb connected to downtown, he built a railway station for the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul steam trains on ground level at Bryn Mawr. His would be customers were urged to take the train to the Bryn Mawr stop and see his beautiful suburb. Additional buildings were built to accommodate the needs of his residents, including the Guild Hall at Winthrop and Bryn Mawr (where he had an office) and the stables at Catalpa (Claremont) by the train tracks. With this development he left his mark on the City of Chicago and the neighborhood known as Edgewater and, in 1889, Edgewater was annexed to the city. However, he was not finished.

In 1890, Cochran purchased land owned by E. Kellogg Beach, which extended along Broadway (Evanston) from Foster to Bryn Mawr and west to Glenwood (Southport). This area is called Cochran’s Third Addition to Edgewater. This development moved slowly at first because there were plenty of large properties still available in the first subdivisions. He determined early on that the Third Addition would be a little different. First, he offered lots in the 37.5’ to 50’ range. He understood that there were limits to the sales of homes to the wealthy who were building along the shoreline and also that there was a growing middle class looking to build homes in Chicago. His strategy was to market to that middle class by building some homes and offering plans for others. He even created a double house, side-by-side three-story town homes, to attract those who wanted to invest in real estate by purchasing a building to live in one side and rent out the other.

The train stop at Bryn Mawr had only four trains daily and these went to Union Station, which is west of the Chicago River and the Loop. The transportation problem continued to slow development so, in 1892, he incorporated the Northwestern Elevated Railway Company as an idea that would take more than 16 years to realize. He also introduced an electric street car on Broadway which could connect to downtown through a transfer at the limits barn near Diversey. This was the only way to make a connection directly to the Loop until the construction of the “L” from downtown through Edgewater in 1908.

According to the permit applications, a few homes were built in 1893, a few more in 1894-95 and then a few more in 1898-99. The first homes were scattered on the eight blocks of Lakewood and Magnolia. Cochran had not yet paved Wayne and there were tennis courts there. West of the Third Addition, construction continued at a slow pace. As late as 1905, there was still a working farm at the corner of Glenwood and Catalpa (Claremont) and there was another farm at Clark Street (Green Bay Road). One of the early residents on Wayne recalled in an interview that she couldn’t sleep because of the smell of rotting cabbages in the fields in the fall. Construction on Wayne did not begin until after 1900 and, on Glenwood (Southport), until after 1905. Although Cochran was building a suburb, it looked like it was really quite far out in the country. There were few stores, only a cluster of buildings at Foster and Clark and a grocery store on Bryn Mawr. Broadway (Evanston) was not originally planned for commercial development, but an ice plant, stables and coal yards were built along the railroad tracks.

Cochran built a new development office at Broadway (Evanston) and Catalpa (Claremont) and then he produced a booklet “A Home by the Lake” in 1899 about the benefits of owning a home in Edgewater, complete with drawings of the homes and floor plans. He offered a variety of styles and, by the time the book was published, several of the homes had been built and were available for purchase viewing. The styles he offered were “some of the best examples of English Gothic, Colonial, Flemish, Classic Colonial, Queen Anne and French Renaissance of the Transition period.” The homes featured on our tour today are examples of some of those styles. They are located on several different blocks and they give some indication of what was available for purchase in 1898 in Cochran’s Third Addition to Edgewater, which we now call Lakewood Balmoral.