The building that today houses Uncommon Ground was built in 1908 for H. Henderson. The architect was Edgewater architect Niels Buck. It was larger than it is today, having been designed as six storefronts: 1401, 1403, 1405, 1407, 1409 and 1411 Devon. The corner store at 1401 appears to have always been a tavern. The storefront at 1403 was at one time a delicatessen (1909) and a women’s clothing store (1930), 1405 was a laundry (1952), 1407 was Bornhofen Groceries (1919); and 1411 was Roman Decorating (1923). The various storefronts other than 1401 were occupied by a variety of stores over the years, including a liquor store and a locksmith shop.
In 1925, a fire occurred in the tavern at 1401 Devon that did an estimated $10,000 worth of damage. In 1939, a woman attempted suicide in the tavern by swallowing a quantity of poison. But probably the most interesting story was that of a robbery in December, 1942, in which $135 was taken from the register, $450 in cash and jewelry from the patrons worth more than $4,000. In 1916, the tavern was owned by John Evart. Sometime later, but not after 1932, it became known as the Glenway Inn. Despite its reputation in later years as an Irish-American pub, it was owned from 1932 to 1952 by a Jewish man, Isidor Levin.
According to Frank Bornhofen, whose grandfather had a grocery store in the building and whose father purchased an existing meat market next door, the western three store fronts were demolished for a parking lot sometime in the early 1960s, probably without a permit because none could be found. Later, the Glenway Inn expanded into the two remaining store fronts. When it closed, the space was taken over by Jody Andre to become the Speakeasy Supper Club. The Speakeasy closed in 2007. The current occupant, the Uncommon Ground, opened on December 3, 2007.
This popular restaurant has been in business in Lakeview for 17 years. While the first location continues operations, owners Michael and Helen Cameron have brought their vision of an active neighborhood gathering place to this north section of Edgewater. Before opening the restaurant, a number of things were done to improve operations. The basement was dug out to a depth that would make it usable for storage and kitchen activities. Green architect Peter Moser designed a rooftop garden where the restaurant could grow fresh vegetables and herbs to add interest to their many menu choices.
The interior of the three sectioned building was enhanced in many ways. The entrance was moved to the side towards the parking area. Reception is in a hallway that opens into the bar. The art deco bar is original and has been restored. The lighting is new. The bar features a lounge like atmosphere with cushioned chairs and a fireplace. This hearth is shared with the dining room next door.
The first dining room has a fireplace surround made of scrap lumber in small pieces. The tables in this room and the next are made from fallen trees found in Jackson Park. Talk about recycling! The second dining room has the original tin ceiling and in place of the original corner entrance there is a small stage area. The restaurant is known for its performance nights and changing art exhibits.
You are welcome to stop in and sample some treats and refreshments. Please present your ticket at the door. Enjoy!