2008 - North Edgewater

2008 Fall Tour of Homes
North Edgewater
September 21, 2008

Welcome to the 20th 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 © 2008 Edgewater Historical Society.

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

North Edgewater

North Edgewater is a designation for the northern part of the community served by the North Edgewater train stop at Granville. Edgewater was developed and named by John Lewis Cochran. In 1885, he began selling lots in his first development, which was bounded by Foster and the lakeshore and extended north to Bryn Mawr. Subsequent additions extended Edgewater north to Devon in 1888. In 1889, the area of Lakeview Township, which included Edgewater, became a part of the City of Chicago. Yet, the name Edgewater persisted because of Cochran’s advertising mystique. In 1890, just as Cochran was developing his third addition, Leo Ernst created Edgewater Park just north of Granville, from Southport (now Glenwood) to Green Bay Road (now Clark). His original name for Rosemont Avenue was Ernst Street. Thome Avenue was named after the Thome family, who lived on the street. One special home remains on Thome. This area and the area to the north, which was originally called “R.B. Farson’s Subdivision,” is the location of our tour.

Farson’s subdivision is focused on Highland Avenue. In the early 1890s, R.B. Farson and Bernard Weber, of the Kransz-Weber Construction Company, built a few homes on Highland, which was then called Edgewater Place. Greenview Avenue was then called Rubens and later called Perry. The lots sold for $500 and were 25’ wide with set-backs of 10’. In all, about five or six homes were built before the turn-of-the-century. Some of these are on our tour.┬áBy 1903, the Kransz-Weber Co. was building over 20 homes on Granville.

In 1903, S.E. Gross was encouraged to look at the area. All through the 1890s, Gross had been developing moderate income housing throughout the Chicago area. He usually bought up a contiguous group of lots and marketed the homes with a special name, such as “S.E. Gross’s Addition to Lakeview” or Argyle Park. A new industry of mass production allowed Gross to add architectural details, like molding and hardware, once available only to the wealthy homeowner.

By 1903, some of this development activity had slowed down. It is reported that the cold Chicago winter of 1902-1903 was a factor but, nevertheless, S.E. Gross took the plunge and announced two additions in January and February of 1903. The estimated cost of construction for each home was $3,500, including the lot. By comparison, a fine large home on Sheridan Road would have cost $12,000. The addition included 27 lots on Edgewater Place (now Highland), Southport (now Glenwood) and Devon. His architect was J. Brompton, who had worked with Mr. Gross on most of his projects. Tall gabled roofs, 9-1/2’ first floor ceilings and 8’ second floor ceilings give these modest houses impressive street presence.

Imagine the activity of 27 homes being built. As the masons finished one foundation, there was another one to start. The carpenters were very busy, as the homes were all wood. It is reported that there was a lumberyard nearby. S.E. Gross had a mission in Chicago. He found a market niche – homes for the workman and his family.

But, by April of 1904, Samuel Eberly Gross had made some changes in his life. He left both Chicago and his wife to take up with and marry a 17 year-old young woman. He liquidated his projects and sold them off, often incomplete. On March 22, 1904, he sold the vacant lot at the southwest corner of Southport and Edgewater Place (now Glenwood and Highland) and various other lots on Edgewater Place for $46,069 with a mortgage of $22,700. Since the projected original cost of construction for 10 homes was $35,000, it seems that some of the houses were completed and ready for sale and some already sold. Mr. Louis Nelson was the purchaser of the project. The remaining homes were then sold and Edgewater Place has retained the plan, if not the look, of the original development (except for the lot at the corner).

Later, in 1906, a commercial building was added at 1414 Highland. The Edgewater Dairy was built as a neighborhood transfer point for milk and many milk products, which were taken by horse-drawn wagons to the homes in the area.

We hope you enjoy our tour of what should today be called Edgewater Park. The housing varies from two-flats and six-flats to the Kransz Weber and S.E. Gross single family homes.