There were less than 20 years between 1834 when public domain land sales opened in Chicago and John Blackstone started claiming property in the densely wooded area surrounding the Blue Island Ridge, and 1852 when the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad first started laying a trail of tracks between Chicago and Joliet.
Those two events created the perfect climate for building the community we know today as Beverly/Morgan Park. The kismet between land development and fast access to Chicago via commuter rail service will be explored on Sun., May 20, 12 to 5 p.m. when the Beverly Area Planning Association’s 2018 Home Tour invites people to experience Beverly/Morgan Park from the Rock Island
On the afternoon of the tour, five private homes — all within walking distance of local Rock Island Metra stops and examples of the lifestyle and history of commuter service in our community — will be open to visitors. Like so many of today’s neighborhood residents, the proximity of the Rock Island Metra was a factor in our homeowners’ decisions to choose Beverly/Morgan Park as their community. Visitors to the Home Tour residences will also discover the unique hospitality, community spirit and historic beauty that contribute to the Beverly/Morgan Park lifestyle.
Featured on this year’s tour are:
A stunning Colonial Revival mansion set at the top of the Blue Island Ridge hill, and renovated from foundation to roof. Built in 1906 for a successful businessman who worked for the Wrigley Company and who played a significant role in local society, the gracious home has been restored to its original splendor with marble tile, hardwood floors, beamed ceilings and exquisite decorative moldings. More than 100 windows in the house were replaced. Ellie’s Café and Wild Blossom Meadery will be providing meal-and-mead samples in the club style backyard.
A deluxe Chicago bungalow carefully preserved for its distinctive detailing and livability, and beautifully updated for an active family. This welcoming home was built as a “high end” bungalow, complete with slate roof tiles, decorative outdoor elements, and a matching detached garage. Filled with natural light that enhances the simply and lovely decorating, representatives from the Chicago Bungalow Association will be on hand to offer tips on tending vintage homes and share history about what has made Chicago bungalows so uniquely desirable for more than a century.
An gracious Tudor Revival set on a quiet corner lot just a half block from the Dan Ryan Woods has been beautifully restored with close attention to retaining the homes most elegant features including a spacious sunken living room with a cathedral ceiling and wall of beautifully crafted leaded glass windows. Bringing the home up to date is the breakfast room/kitchen area created by reconfiguring the floor plan and adding lovely new cabinets, counters and light fixtures. Southtown Health Foods will be serving samples of fresh, healthy juice.
A charming Foursquare home set atop the hill is influenced by the simple beauty of Prairie and Craftsman styling. Rich woodwork, handsomely crafted furnishings, exceptional art and collections, and personal touches tipped with whimsy all add to a welcoming home. Master Gardeners will meet with tour visitors and pass along timely tips to bring to their home landscapes.
A handsome stucco cottage with a garden hideaway is the cherished home of a couple who has spent 20 years making it the perfect place to welcome guests. The house, believed to be the first built in the block, is one of several cottages with almost identical floor plans that were built in the 1910s. Many of these modest homes were owned – including the one featured on the Tour – were owned by people working for the Rock Island Railroad. One of the owners of this house spent his career working downtown and riding the Rock Island five days a week. Now retired, the friends his he made on his daily commute often stop by the house to visit. Open Outcry Brewing Company will be offering samples of their craft-brewed beers in this home’s yard.
The Beverly/Morgan Park Home Tour begins at the RMH Design Showroom, 1802-1806 W. 103rd St., where people can pick up the guide books that serve as entry into the featured homes as well as complimentary goody bags. The RMH showroom is a visual delight of merchandise and samples for mall projects through total remodeling jobs, including fabrics, tile, flooring, counters, wallpaper, rugs, cabinets and more.
Calumet Paint and Wallpaper, paint showcase sponsor for the Home Tour, will have representatives at RMH to share information and expert advice on painting, wallpaper and more.
Homes are selected for the Tour because of their outstanding decorating, amenities and architecture which offer a range of great ideas for updating kitchens, baths, basements and even yards. The homes also show the inextricable impact the opening of the Rock Island Railroad’s service to this area made on the creation and expansion of the community we now know as Beverly/Morgan Park. The convenience of the Metra Rock Island service to Chicago’s Loop is still an important factor in why new residents choose to purchase homes here.
A True Commuter Community
Beverly/Morgan Park would not exist today had it not been for the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad (now the Metra Rock Island). When the Rock began daily commuter service downtown in the later 1800s, the sparsely settled areas along the Blue Island Ridge that became Beverly/Morgan Park began attracting people who desired homes in a “suburban” setting but accessible to jobs and shopping, as well as railroad workers and service providers in need of lodging close to station stops.
Home construction on the Ridge boomed following the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. From mansions that housed some of Chicago’s most prominent families, to cottages and bungalows for families of more modest means, quick transportation downtown was a key influencer for home buyers more than a century ago, just as it is for buyers today. Many of the stations, now located at four-block intervals from 91st to 115th Streets, served as village centers for shopping, and the surviving stations built in the late 1800s and early 1900s form the Rock Island Train Station historic district because of their historic and architectural significance. All of the stations are part of daily life for the estimated 8.3 million riders currently commuting between Joliet and LaSalle Street each year.
At Home in Beverly/Morgan Park Today
For more than four decades, BAPA’s Beverly/Morgan Park Home Tour has been opening the doors to some of the neighborhood’s most remarkable private residences. Tickets to this year’s tour are $30 in advance at www.bapa.org or $35 on the day of the tour, Sun., May 20. Advance tickets are also available at RMH Design, 1806 W. 103rd St., County Fair Foods, `0800 S. Western, and Steuber Florist, 2654 W. 111th St. Homes are open from 12 to 5 p.m. on the day of the tour; all tours are self-guided and must begin by 3 p.m.
Thank You Home Tour Sponsors
Mike Haggerty Buick-GMC-Volkswagen in Oak Lawn, Beverly Bank & Trust, Pacor Mortgage, Marquette Bank, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services – Biros Real Estate, Calumet Paint and Wallpaper, Benjamin Moore Paint, CIBC, PRS Real Estate Services, Beverly Hills Animal Hospital, Steuber Florist & Greenhouses, Southtown Health Foods, Coldwell Banker Residential Oak Lawn, 19th Ward Youth Foundation, County Fair, The Beverly Review, RMH Design, Smith Village, Bridget Gainer, Road Home Program, Beverly Cabinets and Construction, State Sen. Bill Cunningham, State Rep. Fran Hurley, Open Outcry Brewing Company.
Information about the Home Tour contact BAPA, 773-233-3100 or www.bapa.org.