1993 - Lakewood Balmoral

1993 Fall Tour of Homes
Lakewood Balmoral
September 19, 1993

Welcome to the Fifth 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 © 1993 Edgewater Historical Society.

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

Lakewood Balmoral

Edgewater was founded in 1885 when John Lewis Cochran, a tobacco salesman from Philadelphia, purchased 200 acres of land along the shores of Lake Michigan just north of the booming city of Chicago. He planned to create a suburb and took steps to showcase the area by advertising new home construction, streets, trees, sidewalks, a power plant and transportation. All of this was done over a period of 35 years.

Today our tour focuses on Cochran’s third addition to Edgewater, which was filed on November 15, 1890. 54 acres were subdivided into 768 lots. The 16 block area was bound by North 59th Street (Foster) on the south, Evanston Avenue (Broadway) on the east, Southport (Glenwood) on the west, and Bryn Mawr on the north. (Most other street names remain unchanged from that time, except for Catalpa, which was then called Claremont.)

Among the benefits of a home in Edgewater, Cochran offered large lots, stone sidewalks, sewers and macadam streets. Other amenities included ash trees along the parkways and services such as street cleaning and tree trimming. The Edgewater Light and Coal Company supplied electric power (a modern convenience in 1890) to all homes. When Edgewater became a part of the city of Chicago in 1889, the city was not able to provide all the services to the newly incorporated areas. Cochran continued these services to his subdivisions well into the 20th century.

In 1892, Cochran incorporated a transportation company with electric trolleys which connected the Edgewater community to Diversey Avenue, at which point one could changed to a streetcar bound for downtown Chicago. Around this time, Cochran also worked with the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad, a ground level steam train, to open stations at Bryn Mawr, Berwyn and Grand (Granville). Later, in 1893, he became involved in the organization of the Northwestern Elevated railroad, which eventually replaced the ground level trains with the “L” when the link from Wilson to Howard was completed in the early part of this century.

Cochran advertised his subdivisions heavily in Chicago’s newspapers. Besides attracting business people and company executives, Cochran’s plan also drew the interest of many architects. Initially, in the first platted area of Edgewater (Foster to Bryn Mawr and Sheridan to Broadway), Cochran’s architect was Joseph Lyman Silsbee. Silsbee was known for the Shingle style and, although no examples of his work still exist in Edgewater, some photos are available. Frank Lloyd Wright worked under Silsbee for a brief period prior to 1890. Other architects working in Edgewater included George B. Mayer, Harvey Page and Co., H.J. Gaul, Holabird and Roche, Neils Buck, Le Stanhope, H.L. Newhouse, Julius Huber and Myron Church.

Most of the homes on the tour today, were built before 1900 and were among the first homes in the Lakewood Balmoral area. One of the homes, at 5453, has been designated as an historic landmark by the Chicago Landmark Commission. The homes on the tour are of wood construction and eclectic style with Classical, Queen Anne and Shingle detailing. They exhibit the last of an era before the strong influence of the Arts and Crafts Movement and the Prairie Style.

In recent years, the owners of the homes on this tour and many others in the Edgewater community, have made an effort to restore their homes to their original beauty. The quality of craftsmanship, the attention to detail and the architect’s original vision, are evident in these restorations.