1991 - Edgewater Beach
1991 Fall Tour of Homes
September 15, 1991
Welcome to the Third 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 © 1991 Edgewater Historical Society.
For individual home descriptions, select an address at the left.
In 1886, John Lewis Cochran, a tobacco salesman from Philadelphia, began to purchase land along the lakeshore north from Foster Avenue. His vision was of a planned residential suburb he called Edgewater.
Among the keys to his development were improvements such as macadam streets, wide lots, sewers, sidewalks, trees and electric power. He offered no interest loans and advertised this community in the newspaper. He maintained an office at the Edgewater (now Bryn Mawr) station, and downtown.
Cochran developed Edgewater in stages: the first being Foster to Bryn Mawr; the second, Bryn Mawr to Thorndale; the third, Thorndale to Devon. At first, homes were mostly shingle and wood construction. Cochran’s first architect was Joseph Lyman Silsbee. He was replaced by George Washington Maher, who apprenticed with Silsbee. Maher’s style was influenced by prairie designs and the homes he built later reflect this. Two Maher structures are on the tour. Other architects working in the area include J.E.O. Pridmore, who lived on Winthrop, Julius Huber, who lived on Lakewood, Neils Buck, who lived on Kenmore, Myron Church and William C. Zimmerman. There are two Zimmerman buildings and one Pridmore building on our tour.
Cochran created a commercial area on Bryn Mawr and built the Guild Hall at the corner of Winthrop and Bryn Mawr as a meeting place, business office and center of the community. Several area churches used this hall as a meeting place before building their own churches. The Church of the Atonement, the starting point of our tour, began meeting at the Guild Hall in 1888.
As you visit the homes on this tour, you will travel through an area which was planned over 100 years ago. Some of the original limestone sidewalks are still in place. A 1901 map of Cochran’s development is on display at the North Lakeside Cultural Center. It shows the lots that had been sold. Years later, many of the older homes were torn down and replaced with brick apartment buildings because home owners could not afford the upkeep and servants needed to maintain these homes. However, the lakeshore in Edgewater always had a strong appeal as a residential area because of access to the lake and transportation.
In 1916, when much of the area was built up, the Connery Brothers opened the Edgewater Beach Hotel at Berwyn and Sheridan. That hotel was built after Sheridan Road was connected from Foster to Bryn Mawr; before that, the road along the shoreline was called Sheffield. The hotel provided a focal point for many activities in the community.
The Edgewater Beach Hotel took it’s name from the residential community that John Lewis Cochran developed. Now, In 1991, the entire stretch of shoreline from Foster to Devon is called the “Edgewater Beach Neighborhood.”
The suburban exodus began following WWII and Edgewater lost 10,000 in population. The few mansions along Sheridan Road that were owned by families were sold and converted to a variety of uses. As developers with ideas for high-rises appeared, the remaining community could not prevent the drastic changes to come. First high-rises, then condominiums, were built along the shore. Other developers built four-plus-ones on the neighborhood streets to the west. All this construction increased the population along the shoreline by 10,000 in 1960. As you walk these streets, you will see an incredible mixture of housing, old and new, single family, flats, apartment hotels and high-rises. We hope you enjoy this mixture and the tour which takes you from 1895 to the present.