June 10, 2011

A Ravenswood Tour

Once a Community in Old Lake View
This post is a tale of a tour conducted by the 
'Ravenswood-Lake View Historical Association' that highlighted the grand homes & dwellings of the area that was once an entire community in the old township/city of 
Lake View. Ravenswood is currently divided into several different neighborhoods within Chicago. 
(click on article/image to enlarge)
Wilson Avenue east of Ashland 
photo - Chuckman Collection
The 1988 Biography of a Community
Ravenswood was one of the original communities of the Township/City of Lake View. It is my opinion that Chicago should have given this old community neighborhood status much like the 77 community areas created by 1930 but as always the optimist, hopefully...maybe someday it finally will.
This post is not exclusively about its history but about the houses that have survived the time of neglect, decay, and urban renewal. In 2013 the 'Ravenswood-Lake View Historical Association' conducted 'A Walk Through Old Ravenswood' with information provided of the 'walk' by Pat Butler - a member of the association, on their website. 
I have added mostly jpegs to enhance this post. As I mentioned, I will only highlight the houses that this group visited that day - the other structures in the tour is highlighted in other posts of the blog. 
The participants of the 'walk' walked a good distance that day from Lawrence to Berteau Avenues along Hermitage and Paulina - a two mile walk. 
Background by Pat Butler
In 1868, when the Ravenswood Land Company was organized, the area now known as Ravenswood was open prairie, farms and plant nurseries. Although Ravenswood was only a few miles from Chicago, it was an all day trip from the fashionable south side of Chicago to Ravenswood for the Martin Van Allen family, the only family of the Ravenswood Land Company willing to leave the comforts of Chicago to live in Ravenswood.
The Van Allens had to take two horse-car lines and then a small steam engine just to reach Graceland Cemetery where they transferred to a horse-drawn carriage.
Their destination was the home of Mr. Wood, owner of the nursery that covered much of East Ravenswood. The house, then the only dwelling in this area, stood at 4250 North Hermitage Avenue. It was torn down in the 1920’s....
In the following year, 1869, the Ravenswood Land Company built streets, cut down trees from the nursery, laid out the sub division and began selling lots. To encourage Chicagoans to move to Ravenswood, the company built a schoolhouse and offered free land for a church. Lots sold moderately well. By the turn of the century Ravenswood had many fine homes of various sizes, a number of local businesses and factories, two elementary schools, a church on nearly every block, and a YMCA facility for local sports enthusiasts.
Ravenswood Post Office letter carriers 
In a celebratory history of Ravenswood published by the owners of the local newspaper in 1898, the authors boasted: Ravenswood is aristocratic, but is not a suburb where wealth is the open sesame to society’s doors, and to enter whose sacred portals your family must date back five generations and your cupboard contain, beside the silver tankard and cut-glass punchbowl, the ossified remains of at least three family scandals...
{This 1894 Sanborn Fire Map 'A index' will allow anyone with a Chicago Public Library membership card to access this map. Each bold number on the map indicate a sheet within the index that in turn will allow a google-like view of a particular structure with its address. 
....While we will see [the tour] a number of churches, an industrial plant, and apartment buildings, this is also the story of the single-family houses, evolving very quickly from modest country cottages, built just after the 1871 Fire, to ornate and lavish city residences. It is also the story of a neighborhood coming to respect its own history, and so we will see some buildings that have been restored with great care, and others not yet restored.
Finally, this is the story of a few blocks in which much history has happened: where Carl Sandburg wrote his famous poem, “Chicago,” where Dr. Wallace Abbott invented antacid medicine, and where an enormous church was moved across Ashland Avenue [Our Lady of Lourdes Church].
An Account 
History of Cook County by A.T. Andreas
RAVENSWOOD
"This beautiful suburb situated on the NorthWestern Railroad about eight miles north of Chicago owes existence to the efforts of a number of gentlemen principally residents of Chicago who in September 1868 formed the Ravenswood Land Company and the Spring laid out their purchase of one hundred ninety four acres into lots and blocks. The [company] consisted of the following gentlemen: John M Wilson, Jared H. Hinkley, Leonard Hodges, Merrill Ladd, Samuel Powers, Renslow S. Parker, Cyrus P Leland, Chauncey T Bowen, Thomas A Cosgrove, Daniel A Jones, Clarendon Harris, John H Kedzie Field & Co, Seth Sheldon Jr, Luther L Greenleaf, M Allen, Alexander F. Seeberger, John Williams, Lucius A Willard, and Israel Sunderland. The one hundred and ninety four acres which composed the original plat of the village was purchased as follows: eighty acres of Robert Edson, forty of Conrad Sulzer, and fourteen of the Phillip Rogers's estate. Joseph N Barker and HW Blodgett retained their interest of twenty acres which was included in the original plat. In May 1869 the tract was platted. Additions were made by PL Touhy and Phillip Rogers. JH Kedzie and JF Keeney in 1870, JL Stark in 1871, L. Ingledew and Frank Taylor in 1872, and Thomas Lyman in 1878. The plat now consists of about three hundred and sixty acres of which the Ravenswood Land Company owned as stated one hundred and ninety-four acres. Mr. Van Allen as secretary of the company settled in Ravenswood in November 1868 and purchased Block 15 shortly before the original plat was recorded. He therefore may be considered the first settler of the village and in many respects its father. In 1869 the company built, a which was afterwards sold, Sunnyside Hotel was erected just east of the Ravenswood plat in 1870. Improvements were continued until 1871 when the Chicago fire had the effect to check the growth of Ravenswood as of all other suburbs. In 1873 the district school house was erected at a cost of $15,000 and in 1875 the stately high school building for the Township of Lake View."
Ravenswood Expands and Develops 1909
(click on article to enlarge)

This corner lot was used by the community for Independence Day picnics from 1875. However, in 1888 it was purchased by Dr. Wallace Abbott, a local doctor and pharmacist. He commissioned Rudolph Dahlgren and Oscar Livendahl to design the current home. It was completed in 1891. Dr. Abbott had gotten his start in his pharmacy and medical office, located on Ravenswood Avenue, manufacturing the first medications in his kitchen apartment. The company he founded, Abbott Labs, moved with the family to this location in 1891, then the company moved to the first of several properties on Ravenswood. The company sites were known for several spectacular fires as well as industrial accidents leading it to move in 1925 to rural North Chicago. Dr. Abbott could boast of owning an early telephone, among the first on the North Side. It’s simple number was Lake View 143. The 1900 Census notes Dr. Abbott, his wife Clara, their daughter, Dr. Abbott’s father, a cook a nurse girl and a stableman [resided at in this house, at the time.]
Dr. Abbott died on his way home from the office one day in July 1921. The Abbotts moved in 1925, selling the building to the Maginot family. They used the building as the Maginot Funeral Home for many years.[This house was built in 1879 in the Township of Lake View]. - Pat Butler
Converted to a Funeral Home 1933
After years of neglect - restoration in 1988 
some additional history 1989
4646 N Hermitage Avenue
photo - Jane Rickard
Sandburg moved to Chicago in 1912, living in a second floor apartment in this building. He was a  reporter for the Chicago Daily News and a member of All Saints Episcopal Church. Here he composed among the best known of his poems, Chicago, published in 1915. He lived here with his wife Lillian and his daughter Margaret, then two years old.
On locating the apartment Sandburg wrote Lillian he had found “our really, truly home.” The Sandburg's moved to Maywood in 1914.The building itself has been ‘marred,’ according to a 1994 writer, by poor choices in window replacement, aluminum siding and the removal of the front porch.[According to Redfin this houses was constructed in 1896 in the District of Lake View.] - Pat Butler
photo - Ravenswood-Lake View Community Collection
4542 N Hermitage Avenue 
photo - Cook County Assessor
The house was built for Edgar Galloway and his wife, Helen. They bought the land in 1874 [and according to Redfin constructed the house the same year in the Township of Lake View] from Thomas A Cosgrove, a member of the Ravenswood Land Company.
Edgar’s brother Albert bought the lot just north of this one in the same year. The Galloways, like other early residents, then began acquiring additional property in Ravenswood. For example, between 1874 and 1880 they purchased or had financial connections to every lot on this side of Hermitage between Wilson and Sunnyside except the church property and the two end lots at Sunnyside.
Their holdings made the Galloway brothers particularly interested in community improvement projects. Edgar, who was a plumber, was active in the movement to bring sewers to Ravenswood. In 1884 the movement gained momentum and engineers were consulted. They recommended running a line down Montrose to the Chicago River to take advantage of the natural drainage this route offered. But the river was in Jefferson Township, and Jefferson objected to a sewer line at Montrose and the river. 
the second option: the lake
 image - UIC social map zoomed
image - UIC digital maps zoomed
photo - Chicago History Museum via Explore Chicago
The Lake View Crib with the pumping station below
photo - Art Institute of Chicago 
For its part, Lake View, which ended at Western Avenue, would not allow Jefferson to run a water main through Lake View to Lake Michigan. Ravenswood was forced to use an alternate route: it built a sewer main down Damen from Lawrence to Belmont, then over to Western and the river, which at that point was part of Lake View. Like many large projects, construction of the sewers fell behind schedule. Collection of the homeowners’ special assessment, however, continued on schedule. In 1888 this led several homeowners on Commercial Avenue to petition Lake View City Council to suspend collection of their assessments. The petition was denied. The sewer was eventually built. [One year later the City of Lake View was annexed to the City of Chicago. One of the major issues in the annexation election referendum was the quality and access of the water supply]. - Pat Butler
 4533 N Hermitage Avenue
both photos - Cook County Assessor
4529 N Hermitage Avenue
The 4533 and 4529 Hermitage [addresses] are sister houses. In April 1885 James and Frances Stewart entered into an agreement with John Williams to purchase three consecutive lots. 4529, 4533, and 4537 for $750 - to build houses at 4529 and 4533 within 90 days. Construction costs on each house were to reach at least $2,000. Because the agreement survives we have an example of construction practices of one 1880’s developer: the Stewarts had to pay the contractor $500 when the lumber, “exclusive of millwork,” was delivered. For his part, Williams agreed to lend the Stewarts $1,500 on each house costs: $500 when the frame was up and the roof was on; $500 when the chimneys were up and the house was plastered; and $500 when the house was finished.
at least one and possibly both houses were rental homes until early in the 20th Century. 
To give an idea of rents for similar houses in East Ravenswood in the mid-1880’s: Tebbetts Company a local realty firm, offered a 6-room cottage for $17 a month and an 8-room cottage with bath for $20. The firm also sold houses and offered a 6-room cottage for $2,000 and an 8-room house for $2,800. These homes, depending on the terms of financing, were certainly within reach of families with annual incomes of $1,0000. For example, in the 1880’s clerks in insurance firms might have a salary of $1,500 to $1,800, while an attorney in a small firm might earn $4,000 by 1890. (Gwendolyn Wright, Moralism and the Model Home [1980])
[According to Redfin these houses was constructed in 1881 in the Township of Lake View].
- Pat Butler
Google views
photos - Google Viewer
The James Andrews family was one of the earliest to settle in Ravenswood. Mr. Andrews [& his family] joined the 
[1st Ravenswood] Congregational Church, that was one block south [of his home], in September 1873 and was one of the leaders in the effort to build a firehouse, later built at the corner of Ravenswood Avenue and Wilson, perhaps not coincidentally close to the homes of Andrews and the Galloway brothers, who were particularly active in organizing it. The firehouse stood just east of the railroad tracks (which then ran at ground level), across East Ravenswood Avenue from the site of the Pickard Building. The firehouse and its equipment cost $1,200, of which $1,000 came from assessments on local property owners. The remaining $200 was raised from a dance and from the sale of ice cream in the summer months. It was the only firehouse in Ravenswood, and, of course, was operated by volunteers. Fire was a particular concern in Ravenswood because of the many wooden buildings. Although, at least, as early as 1879 Lake View Township [1854-87] restricted construction of wooden buildings in the southern part of the township, there were no restrictions in Ravenswood.
The City of Lake View [1887-89] later bought the firehouse for $800. Lake View offered to refund the money to the contributors, but, with their consent, it went instead toward a local public library. Like his neighbors, the Galloways, Andrews purchased other property in Ravenswood. He also was president of the Ravenswood Loan & Building Association. Andrews’ primary business, however, was not real estate, but hardware. He was a long-time partner in the ventilator manufacturing firm of Andrews & Johnson. [According to Redfin this particular house was constructed in 1891 in the District of Lake View]. - Pat Butler
4447 N Hermitage
photo - Cook County Assessor
Although an upstairs wall was signed by a painter in 1890, this house appears to be one of seventeen Levi C. Pitner built in Ravenswood between 1884 and 1886. [According to Redfin this houses was constructed in 1884 in the Township of Lake View]. Pitner was a real estate developer from Evanston. A local newspaper recorded the prices for Pitner’s homes at $3,000 to $5,000, but Pitner charged more for this elegant home: $5,400. He sold it to Albert Sinclair, a depot master of the Chicago Northwestern Railroad, in November 1884. The local train depot was just south of the firehouse on Ravenswood Avenue between Wilson and Sunnyside. In the 1870’s the trains were the most efficient transportation to Chicago, but not the only transportation. A small steam engine with a single car ran on Clark Street between Graceland Cemetery and Fullerton Avenue where passengers could transfer to a street car. If residents had a carriage, they could drive down Lincoln Avenue or Clark Street to Chicago. By 1887 the North Chicago Street Railway had laid a double line of street car tracks on Clark Street from Diversey to Lawrence. Other improvements followed, but it was not until 1907 that what is now called the Brown Line was opened. In addition to his work at for the railroad, Sinclair found time for politics. After Lake View became a city in 1887 he ran for and was elected alderman of this ward -[Each ward was a former township district - total of 7 at that time]. A long-time owner was A. Melville Hudson a dentist with offices in the area. Owners of the house still had signs for Hudson’s office in the 1990’s. The kitchen (little changed since construction) was used in the 1992 film “The Babe,” for which outdoor filming was done on the 4100 block of Paulina Street. - Pat Butler 
4428 N Hermitage Avenue
photo - Cook County Assessor
Frank Kirkham was a contractor or “builder” who designed his own houses. He built a number of homes in the area 
[according to Redfin this house was constructed in 1891 in the District of Lake View] and seems to have lavished on this house an idiosyncratic sense of elegance. In 1898 Kirkham bought this property from the Linthicums, who lived in the 4200 block of Hermitage Avenue, built this house. In October 1899 he sold it to Harry & Victoria Flanders. Before agreeing to purchase the home, the Flanders negotiated several points with Kirkham: First, they received six additional feet on the south end of the lot. Next, they demanded a number of changes to the house: for example, they wanted a Baker & Jackson furnace that would heat every room to 70 degrees even if the outside temperature fell to zero degrees. Finally, the Flanders demanded that Kirkham build a house, not flats, on the lot south of this house. He built the house just north of this home, too. These and other changes to the house brought the price to more than $8,000. 
- Pat Butler
4307 N Hermitage
photo - Google Viewer
The Cole family purchased the lots for 4307 and 4303 in 1872, just three years after Ravenswood was plotted. The first owner was Martin Cole, a realtor; the second, John Cole, a surveyor and engineer; and the third, Arthur Cole, an architect, who designed several homes in Ravenswood. The construction date of the house is not clear, although, John Cole was living in Ravenswood as early as 1875, possibly in
this house. While in Ravenswood, John Cole worked on the sewer system mentioned earlier. Also, in 1884 he helped redesign the Lake View Pumping Station at Montrose and Clarendon, that first brought lake water to the Lake View Township in 1875. Prior to this time, and even after, shallow wells were the main source of water. Most houses at the time would have cisternsIn later years John and Arthur Cole lived in Hyde Park, while Martin lived on the west Side. Presumably the houses were rented; for example, Robert McLean, the editor of the Inland Architect, lived in one of the houses from 1887 until 1890. [According to Redfin this house was constructed in 1902 in the District of Lake View.] 
- Pat Butler
4228 N Hermitage Avenue
photo - Cook County Assessor
This is the home of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife Amy Rule. They purchased the home in 1998. [According to Redfin the house was constructed in 1891 in the District of Lake View.] At the time Emanuel was an investment banker and a member of the board of directors of Freddie Mac. In 2002 Emanuel became the Congressman for the 5th Illinois Congressional District, succeeding former Governor Rod Blagojevich in that post. In 2010 the building became an object of intense media interest. Long-time Mayor Richard M Daley announced he would not run for reelection in September 2010. Emanuel, then the Chief of Staff for US President Barack Obama, announced he would run for the office.
Burt Odelson, a well-known election law attorney, filed challenges to Emanuel’s candidacy on behalf of Walter P Maksym Jr. and Thomas L McMahon. Soon a crowded field of objectors had joined the challenge. At issue was whether Emanuel, by renting the home to take up his position at the White House, had forfeited his city residency, a requirement to run for mayor.
The tenant, Rob Halpin, not only testified against Emanuel, but filed to run for the office as well. Emanuel stated that he always intended to return to the home. He further alleged that he had stored Amy Rules’s wedding dress, his children’s first clothes, books, diplomas and other items in the home. As the hearing progressed, it became clear that the decision could hang on the storage Emanuel alleged was happening. Lori Halpin, Rob Halpin’s wife, testified before an elections hearing that “there have never been boxes in the house that weren’t mine.” However, attorneys for Emanuel were able to produce photographs of an area of the house that Lori Halpin had not been able to access. The election hearing decided in favor of Emanuel, a decision that was upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court.
The Hamlin Residence
4224 N Hermitage Avenue
photo - Google Viewer
Many residents of early Ravenswood were connected to one another. Irving Hamlin, for example, married the daughter of Reverend W. A. Lloyd, first pastor of Ravenswood Congregational Church. Hamlin and his wife lived with the Lloyds at the southwest corner of Sunnyside and Hermitage while building this house, which cost about $2,200 in 1896. [According to Redfin this house was constructed in 1886 in the Township of Lake View.] - Pat Butler
4223 N Hermitage
photo - Google Viewer
Charles and Eva Linthicum moved to Ravenswood in the spring of 1884 and built a “modest cottage” on this lot. Two years later they bought the neighboring lot to the south. Between 1884 and 1894 the Linthicums built four houses on the two lots. According to a local newspaper, they moved into this house, 4223, in the spring of 1895. [According to Redfin the house was constructed in 1891 in the District of Lake View]. Mr. Linthicum was a well-respected attorney, a member of the law faculty at Northwestern University, and an active participant in neighborhood affairs. 
4200 block N Paulina
photo - Ravenswood-Lake View Community Collection
He and others proposed a number of street improvements in the 1880’s, when Ravenswood was described as “a little village with wooden sidewalks and open ditches, several miles beyond the limits of Chicago.” Specifically, he and others proposed narrowing the streets and creating wide, grassy plots between the sidewalks and curbs. Hermitage, like many of the streets in Ravenswood, had wooden sidewalks beside the open ditches that ran parallel to the street. A town[ship] ordinance called for pine sidewalks 6 feet wide; crosswalks, however, were only 3 feet wide. The narrow crosswalks made walking at night difficult, especially on streets without gas lamps. The streets in this area, as can be seen in an early photograph of Paulina Street, were dirt. In 1900, Mr, Linthicmn, his wife Eva, two daughters, a servant and Eva’s mother all lived in this house. - Pat Butler
4232 N Paulina Avenue
photo - Google Viewer
Captain Hale Knight was originally a sea captain who had a significant professional disability: according to one neighbor, he “never crossed the ocean without being somewhat seasick.” He and his wife bought this house from Robert J. Bennett in 1888. The Knights were one of the early families in Ravenswood. They moved into a rented house on Hermitage in 1873. In reminiscence in Sulzer [Regional] Library, Fannie Knight wrote that during their first year in Ravenswood the only local source for groceries was a grocery wagon that passed through the neighborhood once a week and a meat wagon that called twice a week. The nearest butcher was in Lake View at Clark and Diversey. The closest grocer was in Lake View. too. So, the Knights gave J.H. Bruns a hearty welcome when he opened a grocery store on East Ravenswood Avenue in 1874. The Knights’ daughter, Fannie, and her husband, Dr. Alben Young, moved into the house in 1897 to live with her widowed father. 
Dr. Young was on the original staff of Ravenswood Hospital when it was opened in 1905. [According to Zillow and Redfin the house was constructed in 1878 in the Township of Lake View]. - Pat Butler
4251 N Paulina
photo - Google Viewer
In 1885 Judge William McAllister, who lived in a larger home next door, now demolished, gave his daughter, Mary Ackley, a quit claim deed to this house. Her husband George Ackley was a claim examiner for the Chicago Northwestern Railroad and was vice president of James Andrews’ Ravenswood Loan Building Association. At the time of the 1900 census, they lived there with their three children. For a time in the mid-1890’s one of their daughters ran “a select school” in this house. [This house was constructed in the Township of Lake View]. - Pat Butler
4323 N Paulina Avenue
Levi Pitner, a local developer, built a simple cottage on this site for Amelia and William Pettit in 1885. Between 1894 and 1928 sections of the house were replaced or was substantially altered and enlarged like thee porch in 1928. [According to Zillow the house was constructed in 1896 in the District of Lake View.] - Pat Butler
4420 N Paulina Avenue
photo - Cook County Assessor



2015 Interior Views - Zillow
[This house was constructed in the District of Lake View]
This house was designed by John Morrell for T. F. Washburn at an estimated cost of $6,000 in 1900. Washburn was a varnish manufacturer who commissioned this house. 


Post Notes
The Ravenswood-Lake View Historical Association has their own offline and online collection that highlights both the neighborhood of Lake View and the community of Ravenswood that currently are within the Uptown, North Central, and Lake View neighborhoods.

Important:
These posts are exclusively used for educational purposes. I do not wish to gain monetary profit from this blog nor should anyone else without permission of the original source - thanks!
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