From the President

Vol. X No. 2 - SPRING 2000

By: Kathy Gemperle

We are enthusiastic about the Edgewater Millennium Project which will coincide with the opening of our new museum.

As stated in a flyer we sent out in March, we are seeking the donations of photographs taken in front of the homes of any Edgewater residents. We don’t make any distinctions between homes that are owned or rented, homes that are one unit or two, three or six units or in a highrise. Our main goal is to gather pictures of people and get some of the history of why they are here at this time. We are all a part of this history and we all have a place in it. We are also looking to create a collection of photos of businesses and their owners and employees. Since summer is just around the corner, we hope you will think to do this one day and just send us a copy. It is our plan to create an exhibit around what we learn from this process. We are looking for volunteer photographers to take pictures of those who may call in but don’t have access to a camera. It may be that you have already taken a photo like this. If so just send us a copy. If you have historic photos we will be happy to copy them and return them. Just call our voice mail.

At last some progress in the development of the Edgewater Historical Society Museum! Our contractor has begun the important structural work on the museum. This is where the money is spent but it doesn’t really show. On Monday, May 3rd, two trucks appeared on Ashland Avenue. The first held two steel I-Beams and several columns for installation on the first floor of the building. The second truck was a huge crane for lifting the beams off the truck and threading them through the opening that now serves as a front door. The beams were lifted into place by two hydraulic fork lifts and held there while the columns were set into the new footings. The process took two days. Carl Helbig was there with camera in hand to keep track of the activity. On the second day, I brought my Design and Architecture class from St. Gregory High School to see part of the process. The foreman of the project took time out to explain what they were doing and how to become an iron worker. In the meantime, at the back of the building, a new doorway has been cut and new window holes prepared for the two new windows facing the backyard. The small area off the back of the building once held the boiler for the building (below ground). It was stolen some years ago and a temporary heating unit has been in operation there in order to keep the pipes from freezing. The new heating units will be located in another part of the building. Carl Helbig has given further details in his Building Committee report.

Summer is upon us and with it come street festivals and Garden Walks. In June, there’s the Andersonville Midsommarfest and the East Andersonville Garden Walk and probably several neighborhood walks. In July, there will be a new street festival on Granville, sponsored by the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce, on July 24 and 25. The train stop at Granville was originally called the North Edgewater stop. The station that was there on the ground was built by John Lewis Cochran. The area around the train station began calling itself North Edgewater. There are some indications that there was a neighborhood organization there in the early 1900s. Recently, the streetscape of Granville has been decimated by the demolitions of storefronts and the Devon Theater by Loyola University. Other buildings are slated for demolition as the Loyola campus extends south. This new street fair is a welcome addition to the neighborhood activities in Edgewater.

Meanwhile, on the west side of Broadway south of Granville, the Del Ray Farms site is being recycled once again. It may be the most altered site in Edgewater. Of course we knew this was going to happen when the Del Ray Farms built two stores on Broadway. All this demolition brings up the problem of selecting what to preserve. Our commercial corners have become the most attractive sites to demolish, but corner parking lots and multiple driveways across pedestrian sidewalks threaten the character and quality of our pedestrian friendly neighborhood. A dedicated group of neighbors spent many hours working with the Walgreen’s developers to create the store at Ridge and Broadway, and their efforts benefit all of us. Broadway has been in transition for years despite several efforts to coordinate a plan for the street. Sidewalks have been replaced in some sections, not in others, trees have been planted and, in one case, mature trees were chopped down by commercial property owners. The pedestrians want trees, the businesses want bigger signs. ECC, EDC and the Alderman Smith’s office are working on these issues. If you are interested in keeping the Edgewater Scrapbook posted on what’s going on just call our voice mail.

More changes are just around the corner. The Jewel at Berwyn and Broadway will undergo a major redesign - in fact, it has already begun. At least two different groups are looking at the streetscape on Broadway and it’s quite a challenge. Keep in mind that Broadway was originally planned by J.L. Cochran as residential - at least on the west side. But, before 1900, it was turning into mixed use with store-fronts and residences above. Cochran was a part of that change since he developed the Edgewater electric trolley, the image of which is preserved on our logo. This trolley was planned as a connection between Broadway and the recently demolished Limits Streetcar Barn just south of Diversey. Then, of course, there were two coal yards on Broadway, along the railroad tracks. Who would want to live next to a coal yard! So Broadway developed a commercial life and it continues today.

We would really like to plan the opening of our Museum but we’ve learned that these things move slowly. We are planning to begin the September 26 Home Tour at the Museum so, if you attend that event, you can get a preview. Depending on the plans for the next phase, we may have a summer sneak preview for those who have donated to the Building Fund. Keep those donations coming. We are recognized 501(c)(3) organization and all donations to this fund are tax deductible, according to the IRS. Recently, Board member Bob Remer issued a $1,000 challenge grant which required that participating Board members donations would be matched if they exceeded $100. The EHS Board met the challenge and more than $2,000 was added to the fund. Thanks Bob for that donation and that extra motivation.

This summer promises to be an exciting one. Just think, an Edgewater Historical Society Museum… it’s happening!