1989 - Magnolia Glen

1989 Fall Tour of Homes
Magnolia Glen
September 17, 1989

Welcome to the First 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.

Images and text for this online “tour booklet” were copied from the printed booklet. Copyright © 1989 Edgewater Historical Society.

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

Magnolia Glen

John Lewis Cochran is credited with being Edgewater’s founder. In 1886, he subdivided the land along the lakeshore, beginning at Foster. He gave the area the name “Edgewater.” Our tour begins in Cochran’s Rosedale Addition to Edgewater, at the corner of Magnolia and Thorndale. It is a title well deserved, for it was he who gave Edgewater its name, named several important east-west streets, platted and subdivided more land, sold more lots and built more homes - and did it much longer than any other person.

But Cochran was not alone. There was another prominent developer in Edgewater. His name is William Henry Cairnduff.

In the Spring of 1888, he bought and subdivided approximately 38 acres of land bounded by what is today Broadway, Ridge, Glenwood and the alley north of Ardmore. He called his new subdivision “Cairnduff’s Addition to Edgewater” but today we call it Magnolia Glen. That first summer was spent in creating the infrastructure: grading the streets, installing water and sewer mains, putting in sidewalks and planting trees.

Cairnduff began promoting his subdivision in July, 1888. The real estate advertisements in each Sunday’s Chicago Tribune give a good picture of the enticements Mr. Cairnduff offered and of the progress at various points in time.

By naming his subdivision as an addition to Edgewater and promoting it as part of Edgewater, he cleverly piggy-backed on Cochran’s previous and concurrent promotional efforts.

Like Cochran, he spent heavily on advertising. He stressed the quality of the improvements, the lakeside location and the convenient transportation. He also boasted that the lots in his development were on the highest ground in Edgewater. He offered free transportation on the steam trains to and from Edgewater and had an agent near the depot at Bryn Mawr who would show prospects the lots and homes.

Cairnduff envisioned that Evanston Avenue (now Broadway) would be a boulevard - an extension of Sheridan Road (the present Sheridan Road had not yet been built) - and he advertised it as such, charging more for the residential lots which faced the lake than for the other lots. He envisioned Ridge Avenue as a business street and priced lots bordering on it accordingly.

Cairnduff offered lots on easy terms and loans to build homes on them. He offered ready-built homes and homes built to suit. With all lots came perfect title, warranty deed and certified abstract.

Progress came quickly for Cairnduff and, if we can believe a later ad, was beyond his initial expectations. By the end of 1888 - about six months after he offered lots for sale - he had sold 100 of his approximately 225 lots. A March 30, 1889 ad indicated that 11 houses were under construction, to be available by May 1. An April 28, 1889 ad proclaimed that four out of eight houses had been sold before completion. About a year later, in an ad, he boasted that over 200 lots had been sold and that 30 homes had been built, of which 25 were already owner occupied.

On May 18, 1890, he announced that a $10,000 business block on Ridge Avenue was nearing completion on a lot that he had sold. A week later, he added that the building would house a family grocery market which would be “one of the most attractive stores of its kind in Chicago.” The building stood on the corner of Ridge and Broadway where the Golden Waffle restaurant is now. In that same ad, he also claimed that “one half the population of Edgewater own homes and reside on lots sold by us.”

Why did Cairnduff do so well so soon? One reason might be that he offered homes (and lots) at a lower cost than Cochran initially did. In fact, in a display ad in the March 31, 1889 issue of the Chicago Tribune, he made the claim: “The only low-cost houses in Edgewater are in ‘Cairnduff’s Addition’.” He offered six-, eight- and ten-room houses from $2,750 to $5,500, whereas Cochran offered houses from $4,000 to $12,250, with most of the houses in the middle to higher ranges. Later Cochran offered more moderately priced houses in what is now Lakewood-Balmoral, but he did not do it during this early period.

One of the things Cairnduff did, for which we are grateful as researchers of Edgewater’s history, is that he published the display ad shown here. It includes a map of his development showing the houses built as of May 11, 1890, the date of publication. A number of the houses have been identified by current address and a few of them are being featured on this Edgewater Historical Society Home Tour.