|Greene and Proppe Design, Inc., 1998|
In 1890, the City of Chicago purchased this site for a fire house to serve the northern part of Lakeview Township, which had become a part of the city of Chicago in 1889. The wooden building on the site included a place to house the horses that pulled the fire equipment to the fires.
In the early 1920s, the City of Chicago developed a plan to widen Ashland Avenue. This plan was the source of many disputes, because it involved the loss of 10 feet of land in front of each dwelling along the street. While some home owners filed a lawsuit to prevent the widening, the city began looking into rebuilding the fire station to accommodate the gasoline powered fire trucks and the street widening.
What happened during this planning stage may have been a coincidence. The businessmen in the Clearing area of Chicago wanted to improve their fire protection but they could not afford to staff a fire station. So they applied to the City to give them fire protection. An exchange of ideas took place and what was negotiated benefited Edgewater. The Clearing businessmen agreed to build three fire stations for the City in exchange for fire protection. The firehouses they built are located at 6411 S. Central, 5758 W. Grace and the one in Edgewater. That station was used as a fire house until 1979 when it was deemed too small to be useful.
From 1979 until 1994, it stood under-used and deteriorating. The City of Chicago Department of Environment used the site for an "air quality testing site" for Cook County. Additionally, the Department of General services used the building for storage. In 1994, members of the Board of Directors of the Edgewater Historical Society sought information about the site and were given a chance to tour the building. Despite its small size and deplorable condition, the Board voted to pursue acquisition of the building for the "right" price.
What followed was a proposal to Mayor Daley including almost 2000 signatures, an act of the City Council to approve the sale (shepherded by Alderman Patrick O'Connor) and applications for funding through the City's Non-Profit Facility Rehab program. In 1999, the Edgewater Historical Society developed a plan for the facility and partially finished the project. Every step of the way has brought delays. Success is just around the corner and we look forward to opening in the new millennium.
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by Edgewater Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.