The Boy Scout Heart

By Seamus Murphy, Star Rank Scout and Troop 607 Historian 

On June 10, 1929, a train crew employee for the Grand Trunk Western found a young boy lying along the railroad tracks in Palos. The boy was dead. His body was taken to the nearest undertaker and after a time was moved to the county morgue. The boy’s body remained there, unidentified, for 22 days. The only hint to the boys identity was a Boy Scout emblem pinned to his sweater. Over the next several weeks, hundreds of parents of lost boys came to the morgue to see if this boy was their son. Nobody could identify him. 

About a week before the boy was scheduled to be buried in a potter’s fielda Beverly/Morgan Park resident, municipal Judge Donald McKinleylearned of the tragedy and, the Boy Scout emblem on the boy’s sweater. He decided to make sure the boy received a proper burial with Boy Scout honors. McKinley’s son, Donald Jr. was a boy scout with Troop 607 sponsored by Bethany Union Church on 103rd and Wood streets.  

Rev. Clyde McGee, pastor of Bethany Union, Earnest E. Lee, chairman of the Troop Committee, and Scoutmaster Sergeant Henry E. Parrett, made plans for the boy’s funeral. The boys of Troop 607 raised money for the funeral service.  

Hours before the body was released for the funeral, a woman, Jennie Colburn, saw the boys picture in the newspaper and came to the morgueShe claimed the boy as her 12-year-old sonClarence Fredenburg.   

Two years before Clarence’s death, Colburn and her husband had divorced. Colburn couldn’t care properly for her three children, and they were sent to live with relatives. Clarence ended up on his uncle’s farm in Marshall, Mich. as a chore boy. When his mother visited, he complained of his unhappiness and the cruelty he endured at the hands of his father, who lived near the farm. Clarence confided his dearest ambition was to be a Boy Scout, but he didn’t have any money. His mother comforted him and promised she would find the money so he could join the scouts. She also promised she would send for him to live in Chicago with her. Colburn received a letter from her son shortly before he ran away, saying he was homesick and wanted to be with his mama. In the letter he also wrote he had submitted an application to the boy scouts.  

Clarence was trying to get back home to his mom, when he was either struck by or fell off a Rock Island train. 

On July 3, 1929, the scouts left their headquarters at Bethany Union Church at 2 p.m. to go to Mount Hope cemetery. Mrs. Colburn took street cars from her home up north a 2½ hour journey — and arrived at thcemetery alone. 

Eight members of Troop 607, William Boardman, Theodore Dahlstrom, William Geist, Albert Owen, Donald McKinley, Edward Radius, John Schwarz and Richard Smith carried a small white casket draped with an American flag, a troop 607 flag, and scout banners.  In a short burial service given by Rev. McGee he stated, “We do not know if this lad was actually a Boy Scout, but we do know he was a Boy Scout in spirit. He had our ideals. His story will make us remember to be thoughtful to boys who haven’t the advantages we have.” 

Herbert Phifer, Arthur Trever, William Schulz and Wilfred Young performed the color guard duties and Frank Arnold, the troop’s bugler, performed Taps.  

The casket was lowered. 

Do a good turn daily, is one of the scout mantras. During this time, the Boy Scouts of Troop 607, live that mantra.  

Troop 607 is still sponsored by Bethany Union Church. In May, the troop will turn 100 years old. This story is the beginning of yearlong celebration that will culminate in a 100year party on May 22, 2021. The boys of the current troop have the large shoulders of past scouts to stand on, as they continue to “Be Prepared” and to “Do a good turn daily. 

If you or a family member were a scout or leader in Troop 607, join their Facebook page, Bethany Union Church Troop 607 100th Anniversary, to share scout stories, connect with old friends, and attend the 100 year celebration in May. For information on joining the troop, contact Mark Murphy, mamurphy@comcast.net 

Student Featured in Documentary About Civil Rights Tour 

Five months after they visited the American South on a life-changing tour through civil rights history, Morgan Park Academy students are set to be featured in a documentary filmConfronting the Living History of the Civil Rights Struggle,  produced about the experience by The Nation magazine. 

Beverly/Morgan Park neighbor Caitlin Robinson, an 8th grader, was among the group of MPA 7th and 8th grade students and teachers who toured from Jackson, Mississippi, to Atlanta, Georgia in February. The group traveled under the guidance of André Robert Lee, a teacher, producer and acclaimed documentary filmmaker with years of experience leading civil rights tours in the South. 

With global studies at the core of its curriculum, MPA partnered with The Nation because of their expertise in presenting this emotionally complex material to middle school students in a way that teaches the history of the Civil Rights Movement thoughtfully, honestly, and delicately, while also teaching students the significance of the role the individual plays in determining the direction a society moves towards or away from justice. 

Traveling from Jackson, Mississippi, through the Mississippi Delta to Little Rock, Arkansas, and on to Memphis, Tennessee, students visited the sites and talked with some of the leaders of this important era of U.S. history. From there the group went to Birmingham and Selma, Alabama, finally ending the journey in Montgomery at the Lynching Museum and the Equal Justice Initiative. 

Robinson is among the students who were interviewed for the documentary, which has been released as a five minute short and will be released soon as a full-length piece. 

“My generation’s role is to continue on the fight that their ancestors started,” Robinson said“Because it’s not over, and I want to make sure people remember that.” 

“This isn’t just Black history. It’s American history,” said Josiah Fields, another MPA student.   

The experience was coordinated by Colleen Amberg, who leads development of MPA’s social studies curriculum and directs the middle school global studies program. 

“This trip changed my life,” Amberg said. “Since we got back, not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about it. It was even more meaningful and historic than we anticipated, and drove home how fortunate I feel to work in a school that is so supportive of and committed to developing globally minded citizens.” 

The documentary short can be viewed on YouTube 

Celebrating nearly 150 years of educational excellence, Morgan Park Academy (MPA) is an independent college preparatory school ranked annually among the top private schools in the state and first among all schools in Chicago’s Southland area. Plans call for the school to reopen 

in August for in-person learning on the 20-acre campus at 2153 W. 111th St. Learn more at morganparkacademy.org or call 773-881-6700. 

Ridge Historical Society to Offer E-learning Options 

By Linda Lamberty, Historian 
Ridge Historical Society 

Into the beginning of March, the Ridge Historical Society (RHS) was steaming forward, scheduling our popular annual Spring Bonnet Tea, five monthly crafting events geared toward children and centered around our new exhibit of American Girl dolls, and more. 

“Real American Girls of the Ridge” is a display of the first five American Girl dolls (Felicity – 1774, Kirsten – 1854, Addy – 1864, Samantha – 1904 and Molly – 1944) and their fabulous costumes and other accessories, a gift from local resident and RHS friend, Joan O’Connor.  As a complement to this collection, and turning it into a tool to teach local history, the stories of five real girls/women who lived in our community over the last 176 years, whose lives and times parallel in varying degrees the fictional stories of the dolls, are told in words and images.  An added bonus is the story of American Girl creator, Pleasant Thiele Rowland, with roots of her own here in Beverly/Morgan Park. 

All efforts to bring people in to RHS to see this exhibit screeched to a halt as we closed our doors on COVID-19.  The tea is postponed until future notice and our doors will stay shut at least through April. 

With parents at home in search of educational and entertaining material for their housebound kids, the RHS decided to make the exhibit, craft events and more available online, free to all.  Shifting gears like this will take some time and mental gymnastics, but look to RHS to be offering e-learning opportunities beginning within the month. 

Beyond the stories of five real local personalities, subjects from the exhibit to be covered online include descriptions of the wild Ridge as it appeared in 1844, local Underground Railroad and related activities here before the end of the Civil War, the heartfelt story of Fridhem – the Swedish Baptist Old Peoples’ Home established in Morgan Park in 1905, stories of the first Girl Scout troops started in Morgan Park in 1922, and the Chicago Bridge & Iron Company’s role, along with other local Homefront activities, during WWII. 

In the meantime, the entertaining and informative RHS Facebook posts by Carol Flynn bring clarity to the present by showing how closely today can be tied to the past. Flynn is currently revamping our web site and will be adding educational material as fast as we can develop it.  A series of recent Facebook posts show how history repeats itself as she describes Chicago’s efforts in the Spanish Flu pandemic just over a century ago.   

If they knew then what we know now, they’d have been ahead of the game.  If we knew now what those 100 years from now will know, we would be far better served.  Please try to be enlightened, think ahead and stay well! 

 

 

 

‘Real’ American Girls of the Ridge 

 By Carol Flynn 

The Ridge Historical Society (RHS) is wasting no time putting to use the five American Girl dolls recently donated by Beverly/Morgan Park resident Joan O’Connor. Beginning Mar. 1, just in time for Women’s History Month, they will form the nucleus of a new exhibit, “Real American Girls of the Ridge.” 

The award-winning line of 18-inch dolls was started in 1986 by Pleasant Thiele Rowland. The original dolls represent girls about 10 years old from various periods in American historyAccompanied by books that tell stories from the girls’ perspective, the goal was to encourage reading and an interest in history through age-appropriate play. The dolls became enormously popular and Rowland sold the company to Mattel in 1998. 

In the RHS exhibit, the dolls will be paired with “real” American girls, actual women connected to the Ridge from the same time period  

Addy, the African-American U.S. Civil War-era doll, will be paired with Cornelia Reeves. “Mother Reeves,” as she was known, was an ex-slave who moved to the Ridge with her children and their families in the late 1880s. As a young girl in Virginia, her family was separated and sold, and she never knew what happened to her parents and siblings. According to the Chicago Defender newspaper in 1936, Mother Reeves and her descendants were the first African Americans to settle in Morgan Park. They were very active with the Beth Eden Baptist Church. RHS Historian Linda Lamberty is researching this family and looking for descendants who are still in the area. 

Samantha, the doll from the late Victorian/Edwardian era, the early 1900s, will be paired with Margaret Gear Lawrence, whose family moved to the Ridge when she was three years old. Lawrence was involved in many activities and organizations, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Morgan Park Baptist Church,  and served as the RHS presidentHer involvement with the new Girl Scouts organization that began in 1912 will be explored in the exhibitRHS has memorabilia, including her uniform, from her many years as a local Scouts leader. RHS Secretary Carol Macola, very active in scouting, is working on this exhibit. 

Molly, the World War II-era doll, is being paired with a living “real” American girl, RHS President Elaine Spencer. Born in 1932, Spencer grew up on the Ridge during the war years, attending Barnard and Clissold Schooland later Morgan Park High School. She has many stories to share, including listening to the radio with her parents and brothers in 1941 when President Franklin Roosevelt addressed the country about the bombing of Pearl Harbor right as the Christmas season was beginning.  

Said Spencer, who now lives in Smith Village retirement community, “I don’t remember feeling afraid, but the adults seemed worried. We were hearing reports about the war in Germany, and it was terrible because most of our grandparents came from Europe. Because of Pearl Harbor, it appeared inevitable that America would have no choice but to get involved in the war. 

The exhibit will also feature information on Pleasant Thiele Rowland who lived in West Beverly as a youngster from 1947 to 1951. For at least four decades, her paternal grandparents, Edward and Maude Thiele, lived in Beverly/Morgan ParkRowland used to go antique hunting with her grandmother and credited this for her interest in history. 

The grand opening reception for “Real American Girls of the Ridge,” free and open to the public, will be Sun., Mar. 1, 2 to 5 p.m., at RHS, 10621 S. Seeley Ave. Info: 773/881-1675 or ridgehistory@hotmail.comFollow RHS on Facebook.  

Grace and Sid Hamper Will Receive BAPA Community Service Award 

By Grace Kuikman 

For the past three decades, Sid and Grace Hamper have been tireless stewards of one of Beverly/Morgan Park’s most cherished institutions, the John H. Vanderpoel Art Association (VAA) collection of 19th and 20th century American art. As lovers of art and their community, the Hampers have committed their outstanding time and talents in abundance, Sid as treasurer, president and now president emeritus, and Grace as a volunteer and curator.     

For their dedication to the Vanderpoel Art Association, the Hampers will be presented with the BAPA Community Service Award at the Beverly Area Planning Association annual Donor Recognition Reception on Thurs., Nov. 14. The by-invitation-only reception also honors BAPA donors giving at levels of $500 and up, and this year will be held in the John H. Vanderpoel Gallery at Ridge Park  

The Hampers were recruited to the VAA through a friend, the late George Ralston, who recognized the talents that the couple possessed and the Association needed.  Ralston was right: the Hampers’ dedication to the VAA has been unmatched.  

Grace, who always had an interest in the arts, joined VAA in 1989, once the couples’ four children were grown. Grace summed up her experience with the VAA as “years of joy.” Through her work at the gallery, she has helped to curate the art, prepare exhibits and help wherever she has been needed. “I’ve met lots of interesting people from the art world,” she said.  

Sid joined the VAA in 1992, following his retirement from a successful career at the Chicago Board of Trade and as a lawyer in private practice. He was a teenager when he started working as a runner at the CBOT, and in the early 1950s became a trader. He is still a CBOT member and served ten years as a director. In 1958, Sid earned a law degree. In addition to this career as a trader, he opened a law practice with partner. He specialized in wills, probate, commodities and security law, and as a qualified trade advisor. Conveniently, the law office was located in the CBOT building.  

Sid’s expertise in finance and law were pivotal in raising funds needed to protect the Vanderpoel Art Association collection in perpetuity. He cultivated donors whose generous gifts made it possible to provide for the future of the collection and to underwrite important art conservation efforts, including the cleaning and restoration of about 30 art works. The VAA continues to preserve art, working with top quality art restorers.  

The outstanding art collection is named for Dutch-born artist John H. Vanderpoel who lived in North Beverly while teaching at the School of the Art Institute. Following the artist’s death in 1911, community residents took up a collection and purchased Vanderpoel’s painting “The Buttermakers.” In 1914 the painting was placed in Vanderpoel School as a tribute to the artist for whom the school – and the street where it’s located — was named. It was later decided that a memorial collection of works would be an even better honor. Vanderpoel was beloved by his students, many of whom were eager to donate their works to the collection.  

Many of the paintings in the collection were donated by artists or owners. “A lot of the paintings were in people’s homes,” Sid said. He explained that the first curator of the collection – John Campbell – would write to Chicago area artists asking them to donate pieces of their work. And they did. Paintings, drawings and sculpture arrived at Ridge Park. The file of Campbell’s correspondence documenting this fascinating aspect of the gallery’s history still exists.  

When the collection had grown too large to be housed in the school’s gallery, a new wing was built on the Ridge Park field house, creating a permanent home for the John H. Vanderpoel Art Association collection.  The collection of what is now more than 600 19th and 20th century works by American artists also grew in reputation. Counted among the artists are Mary Cassatt, Maxfield Parrish, Grant Wood, Daniel Chester French and Vanderpoel, whose work, “The Buttermakers,” is still on display. 

At the gallery almost every day for many years, Sid also dedicated important time to research and myriad other important tasks that illuminate, protect and benefit the art collection Many people – from the community and beyond – recognize the Hampers as the faces of the Vanderpoel collection. In fact, when Chicago Magazine profiled the Vanderpoel Gallery Feb. 2018, Grace and Sid Hamper were interviewed and appeared in the photograph.  

At age 88, the couple is no longer in the Ridge Park gallery every day, but they remain involved as tremendous resources and keepers of the collection’s history.  

“Grace and Sid Hamper have shown an extraordinary and steadfast commitment to the care and preservation of the John H. Vanderpoel Art Association’s art collection,” said Irene Testa, current VAA President. “Their leadership has been crucial to the success of the organization.  We are profoundly grateful for their efforts to preserve this valuable art collection for posterity.” 

For information on how to support BAPA at the Community Support Circle and higher levels, contact BAPA Executive Director Susan Flood, 773-233-3100.  

How to Integrate a Chicago Neighborhood: In three (not so) easy steps. 

By Scott Smith 

Here’s what it takes to racially integrate a Chicago neighborhood. 

You have to be a black real estate agent in 1971 who brings families who look like you into a white neighborhood even when neighborhood associations ask you to stop and someone throws a Molotov cocktail at the front door of your house. 

Six months later, you have to be a white guy who stands up in front of your similarly white congregation on a Sunday morning in 1971 with a set of poster boards which say things like, “Integration is inevitable.” 

And you have to be willing to be the only black family on your block. 

Then you have to spend the next 40 to 50 years acting in fits and starts as black and white residents strive to live among each other, not just with each other, in a city so poisoned by segregation that neighborhoods with black populations higher than 40 percent stop growing economically. 

At least that’s the way it’s been in Beverly/Morgan Park, a racially integrated area of the city roughly bound by 87th Street on the north, 119th Street on the south, California Avenue on the wst, and Vincennes Avenue on the east. 

According to the most recent census numbers, Beverly is 55 percent white and 35 percent black. Residents with tight-lipped Midwestern smiles forgive outsiders who believe these tree-lined streets full of historic architecture are some Oak Park-ian suburb. 

In fact, Beverly, along with Morgan Park (66 percent black and 29 percent white) and Mount Greenwood (86 percent white, 4 percent black, and 6 percent Latino) make up the 19th Ward, one of the last strongholds of the legendary Democratic machine. It’s a community that rallies and fundraises when one of its own needs help, whether it’s a family displaced by a fire, local police in need of bulletproof vests, or a young child stricken with cancer. Its strongest businesses  in stark contrast to the big-box stores in the suburbs next door  are small and unique, from decades-old stalwarts like Top Notch Beefburgers, County Fair Foods, and Rainbow Cone, to newer establishments like Horse Thief Hollow Brewpub, Belle Up Boutique, and Tranquility Salon, which is a hairstyling business in the front with occasional live music in the back. The South Side Irish Parade is still a Western Avenue tradition, but so is an annual neighborhood art walk started in the last decade, which features a multiracial coalition of artists and changemakers. 

Though Morgan Park had some racial integration in the first half of the 20th century, the Encyclopedia of Chicago tells us this didn’t occur “on a large scale” until the 1960s. Meanwhile, Beverly was 99 percent white in 1970. 

By 1980, Beverly would be 15 percent black. 

None of that change happened naturally.
The years in between were when Frank Williams, Pat Stanton, and Audrey Peeples entered the picture. None of them were looking to make history, nor did they know each other at the time. Their stories are merely representative of what happens when ordinary people don’t act in ordinary ways. 

 

Frank Williams will tell you he’s a fighter. But he got kicked out of high school for being a lover. 

In Jan.1971, Frank opened a real estate agency at 90th and Ashland. Soon after that, he began showing houses in North Beverly to black families who wanted to live there. This did not endear him to some of the neighborhood associations there and they asked him to sign a consent decree, promising not to show homes there. 

He refused. 

It was not the first time white people tried to persuade Frank to act counter to his interests. 

Frank was on the high school football team when he lived in segregated Flint, Mich. He was dating a girl named Joanne, who was white. The school was not happy about it and Joanne’s parents sent her away for a time. The principal of Frank’s high school sat him down and asked him to promise he would not date another white girl. Frank said he could not make that promise. 

Kicked out of school at 18 for this refusal, Frank went to work in a factory, which he hated. Eventually, Joanne returned to Flint and the two decided to get married and move to Chicago. Frank found work, first as a mail carrier, then as a realtor in 1966. 

When asked if he was purposely trying to bring black families into predominantly white Beverly, Frank doesn’t mince words: “All my life I’ve attempted to do that. 

“I always believed I  and my children  had a right to live and play everywhere, in all communities.” 

Ask Frank what the reaction of the residents was to his efforts and he laughs. “Oh, you know, heh, heh, heh,” he says before begrudgingly admitting, “I was not welcomed with open arms.” 

This is Frank’s way of saying the windows of two of his real estate offices were broken. Someone bombed the front of his house with a Molotov cocktail, too. Frank seems to consider this the price of doing business the way he wanted to do it. 

“We lived our lives on a daily basis. No, we didn’t like it. But I’ve always been a fighter. And I fought. And I told those folks, ‘No, I will not sign a consent decree that I would not solicit in Beverly.’” So that was that. 

Incidentally, Frank and Joanne have been married for 59 years. 

Frank doesn’t have much good to say about the neighborhood associations of the time, suggesting they weren’t much concerned with anything other than “the niceties” of a community until black people started to move in. “They would do things such as integration management, integration maintenance.” 

He describes the practice this way. “The strategy was that no more than two or three so-called minorities on a block [was] acceptable. Once you get to that fourth person, that’s the tipping point. That creates flight, that creates the exodus from the community.” 

Just so we’re clear, Frank means “white flight.” 

There’s a long, sordid history of white flight, panic peddling, redlining, and other government-sponsored segregation through housing nationwide. Chicago plays a particularly odious role in it. Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Atlantic magazine article, “The Case For Reparations,” is a good place to start if you’re new to the topic. 

To Frank, “integration management” was just another form of segregation. To the neighborhood associations of the time, it was smart urban planning, which brings us to the Beverly Area Planning Association and a white guy named Pat Stanton. 

 

Laurence “Pat” Stanton was an advertising man, comfortable winning over people in a pitch. The one he delivered in the summer of 1971 would change the community of Beverly for decades. 

A resident since 1959, Pat saw what was happening in Beverly with black families moving in and had a very simple view: “Integration is inevitable.” 

A member of the Human Relations Committee at Christ the King’s Catholic parish in North Beverly, Pat and others had some success with anti- solicitation efforts aimed at keeping panic peddlers out of the community, but they were looking for ways to have a broader impact. 

So Pat wrote a 10-page plan and presented it to the board of CK, which felt that before it could endorse the plan, it would need the congregation’s input. A couple weeks later, Pat found himself in front of the CK congregation, a layperson standing at the pulpit  unheard of for the day  delivering a presentation off flip charts. 

On July 11 and 12, Pat would deliver his sermon at five masses. A low-quality recording of one of his presentations was made surreptitiously by a parishioner. 

“We call this presentation ‘Beverly Now.’ And ‘Now’ should be underlined three or four or five times because now is certainly the moment for coordinated action in this community.” 

Rather than stirring oratory calling upon the higher ideals of those assembled, “Beverly Now” is often mundane, with facts and figures about housing migration and real estate prices. Pat’s words sound pragmatic at best, even though they likely sounded radical for the time. 

“Let’s face up to it. Change is beginning to affect our community. And that change will continue. There’s nothing to prevent it. There are thousands of blacks who want homes, they can afford homes and certainly they deserve to live where they can afford to.” 

“Beverly Now was for realists,” Pat says on a Sunday afternoon 47 years later. “It wasn’t a do-gooder approach. I certainly had strong feelings about what was right, but you don’t convince people because it’s right, you convince them because it’s practical and it’s right for the community.” 

During his presentation, Pat made it pretty clear he anticipated pushback and where those folks could go. 

“There will be a certain percentage of people  let’s hope most of them have already moved away  who won’t want to live here because there are blacks in the community . . .  

“Fight the panic peddlers and the blockbusters . . . let’s insist that if blacks are going to look in this community, they look throughout the community.” 

Pat explains this approach years later. “The South Side changed block by block. The secret, we thought, was that you have to convince the realtors, if they have black prospects, to show them houses throughout the community and not to the obvious place where blacks have recently moved.” 

Had Frank been in the pews that Sunday, he may have objected to this. But Pat, ever the ad man, knew his audience and how to craft a message that got them to buy. In fact, the majority of Pat’s “Beverly Now” presentation is less a call for racial integration in housing and more a verbal white paper, a holistic program of urban planning which includes improving the schools, supporting local businesses, promoting the area’s historic architecture, and talking up the local arts center. 

Pat says a handful of people told him they objected to his plan and a few people interviewed for an article in the Southtown Economist (now the Daily Southtown) said so, too. No broken windows in his case, though he does note that two realtors quickly moved their offices. 

Most importantly, Pat knew the most important color in the discussion was green. 

“The genius was ‘And Christ the King will contribute $15,000 toward the implementation of this plan,’” the older Pat says. “For the life of me, I can’t think of what sparked that thought.” Nevertheless, the pastor of CK committed the money. 

Within a month after Pat’s “Beverly Now” presentation, the decision was made to fund an expansion of the Beverly Area Planning Association. At the time, BAPA was a small organization without much clout, concerning itself primarily with real estate and zoning matters. BAPA became an organization charged with managing not just integration but small business, real estate, beautification, and safety concerns. It still carries out this mission to this day, though its dedication to integration has waxed and waned, depending on its leadership. 

But hard-charging real estate agents, advertising men, and planning associations are only part of the solution. It also takes residents willing to risk being the first black face on a white block. 

 

Audrey Peeples moved to Beverly in 1972 from what is now called Bronzeville. In Beverly, she and her husband were the only black family on the block. 

“They would try and show us a place in Morgan Park or Washington Heights on the other side of the railroad tracks,” she says. She specifically instructed the agent to show them homes from 97th to 103rd, between Wood and Western. Beverly proper. 

Like Frank, Audrey’s husband believed “people should live where they want to live.” He wanted to live in Beverly because the older style of architecture and hills reminded him of Haverford, Penn., where he grew up. 

Audrey says they moved to Beverly in May, over the Memorial Day holiday. It was hot and they had the windows open. Someone driving by yelled the N-word and “get out of that house.” In another incident, a kid from the neighborhood rode by on a bike and yelled a slur at Audrey, who was pregnant at the time. Her husband jumped in the car and drove to the kid’s house to inform his mother. “Oh I’m sure it wasn’t my son,” she said. It was. Most everybody in Beverly then knew where everybody else lived. 

“It wasn’t real friendly,” Audrey says. 

Still, a white neighbor invited them to a “welcome to the block” party. Audrey remembers a Protestant friend of hers saying she fit in better with the neighborhood because, unlike her friend, Audrey was Catholic. She says she didn’t experience any bigotry within Christ the King when she started going to services there in 1977. Over time, she found more acceptance. Integration, after all, was inevitable. Many years later, Audrey would chuckle to herself and say her lighter skin may have helped. 

“I’ve been in situations when people say ‘What are you?’ And then I say, ‘Why do you ask?’ and then they don’t know why they asked.” 

Ask her why integration took hold in Beverly and Audrey brings up a point not mentioned by Frank or Pat. Interest rates were going up at the time and white families who might otherwise have been tempted to leave and sell their homes would not have been able to get as much for them as they would have liked, nor would they have been able to get as much home in another neighborhood. 

Once the only black girl in her Girl Scout troop, Audrey would go on to be an anti-racism trainer with the YWCA as well as a board member with the Chicago Community Trust. 

Unlike some families of the 1970s, Audrey says today’s North Beverly families accept integration as a given: “Diversity is who they are.” Beverly has, in her words, “settled down.” “It takes dialogue and conversation. Can we have a quiet dialogue and not make people feel guilty? 

“I bring it up at every opportunity.” 

 

Underlying all this is that question of the tipping point and whether BAPA and others were right to try and spread the integration throughout the community rather than expecting it to occur naturally, whatever that means. If the government can try to manage it negatively through redlining, can’t others try to manage it positively? Doesn’t that ultimately help the economics of a community? 

Natalie Moore addresses this in her 2016 book The South Side. In writing about Bronzeville she says, “no infusion of capital and amenities followed when new black middle-class homeowners bought into the neighborhood, therefore confirming the theory that green (as in money) doesn’t trump black (as in race).” She goes on to cite a 2014 Harvard University study that found economic opportunities halted once a neighborhood became 40 percent black. 

By 1990, Beverly was 24 percent black. It’s 35 percent now and often shows up on “Best Places to Live in Chicago” lists. Its residents have a significantly higher than average income and crime is low, especially compared to surrounding neighborhoods. 

Frank, Pat, and Audrey’s efforts all predated the Harvard study by 40 years, but the questions are the same. Is this how you keep integration from becoming segregation? Was this the right approach? Is it now? 

Whether the Beverly/Morgan Park of the 1970s has settled down in the 2010s is perhaps in the eyes and ears of the beholder. No broken windows or porch bombs, certainly. But a few times a year, a racially charged controversy will erupt publicly over slurs at a local bar or ballfield, or Nazi graffiti that appears overnight on a garage or wall. Other racial issues simmer beneath the surface in schools or local businesses, ever ready to break through. 

On the other hand, a local artist recently took discarded lawn signs from political campaigns and repainted them with messages like “Multi-Racial Unity” and “Black Lives Matter.” Residents send her their addresses via Facebook and, under cover of night, the signs show up on front lawns. Sometimes they get stolen. The artist always makes more. 

As for Frank, he’s still showing homes in the area and was recently given the Gale Cincotta Community Visionary Award by Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago. 

Pat spent the early 2000s as a columnist for The Villager, expounding on the history and the present of the neighborhood. In 2017, BAPA gave Pat and his wife Lorraine an award for all their years of volunteer service to the community. 

Audrey still lives in the same house she moved into back in 1972. She just started her second stint on the BAPA board, too, still starting conversations. 

Depending on where you stand, the neighborhood of Beverly can seem either of another time or slowly embracing change. 

There are always a few ordinary people working on the latter.  

 

This essay appears in the Chicago Neighborhood Guidebook, available from Belt Publishing, beltpublishing.com and at Bookies, 10324 S. Western.  Scott Smith is a media strategist and lives in Morgan Park with his wife and daughter; he hosts and produces the live lit show The Frunchroom and serves on the BAPA Board.  

 

 

RHS Exhibit Features Fashion as Art 

 

“Threads of Imagination,” an exhibit exploring fashion as an art form through the creative work of five Beverly/Morgan Park artists, one of whom was an historical figure, continues at Ridge Historical Society, 10621 S. Seeley. Info: 773-881-1675 or ridgehistory@hotmail.com. 

Alla Ripley Bannister (1867-1948) was a famous fashion designer who lived at 1620 West 102nd Street in the early 1900s. She used the professional name “Madame Ripley” and had a studio on Michigan Avenue. She was a savvy businesswoman and marketer. Through her organization, the Fashion Art League of America, she promoted “American designs for American women,” helping to establish U. S. designers in the global fashion industry. The RHS exhibit profiles Ripley, her family and career. 

Ripley’s husband was architect George S. Bannister, who designed and built the Dickey-Harris House at 10856 S. Longwood Drive, where Paul P. Harris, the founder of Rotary International lived for many years.  Bannister also designed the American Craftsman-style home for his family on 102nd Street.  

Contemporary artist Judie Anderson worked as a fashion illustrator for Chicago’s American newspaper in the 1960s, and work from this period of her career is on display at RHSAnderson and her husband, the late Bill Anderson, started the first school of the arts at the Beverly Arts Center in 1972. Anderson had a 20-year career with the Chicago Tribune, retiring as director of design. Today she continues watercolor painting, teaching and exhibiting. 

Maggie O’Reilly grew up on the Ridge and now raises her own family here. The RHS exhibit features pieces from her two companies, Maggy May & Co., a girls’ clothing line; and the MAYTA Collection, which works with artisans in Morocco and Peru to create handcrafted fashion and household accessories. MAYTA is a member of Chicago Fair Trade, a coalition to increase support for fair trade practices.     

Two of Sandra Leonard’s “sculptural costumes,” fashions she creates that turn the human form into sculpture, are on display. Her costumes appear internationally in performance art productions, improvised theater, alternative fashion shows and installation projects. She has designed interactive costumes for children for the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and Art Institute of Chicago.   

Nicole Burns of Ni Bu Design is also a Ridge native now raising her own daughter here. She incorporates vintage fabrics and fashions into new art forms. Her work in the exhibit includes clothing, bags, dolls and sculptures. She also collects vintage sewing items and some of these are on display, bringing viewers back full circle to 100 years ago when Madame Alla Ripley was producing fashions.     

Another historic feature of the exhibit is a section on the “silk connection.” Prominent silk merchants connected to the Belding and Brothers silk business made their homes in North Beverly beginning in the late 1800s. Vintage silk items as well as information on the families are displayed. 

Carol Flynn is guest Curator for the exhibit, and researcher/writer for the Alla Ripley Bannister section. 

Linda Lamberty, RHS Historian, is the designer of the exhibit. She reached out to Alla’s family through the website Ancestry.com, and great-niece Lanora Harris King has shared family photographs and information for the exhibit. 

RHS is located at 10621 S. Seeley Ave. Open hours for the exhibit will be posted on the RHS Facebook page and RHS website at www.ridgehistoricalsociety.org 

On Sun., Nov. 17, 2 p.m. at RHS, Judie Anderson will discuss her career in the newspaper industry, and will demonstrate a fashion illustration, which a lucky member of the audience will win to take home. Admission is $10Reservations: 773881-1675 or ridgehistory@hotmail.com. 

Smith Village Starts Expansion  

Ground was broken in mid-October for a $22.3 million expansion to modernize the Johanson Wing at Smith Village, 2320 W.  113th Pl. The project will benefit residents in skilled nursing care and short-term stay rehab. 

The Johanson Wing was built in 1991. The new construction will convert double-occupancy rooms to create more private suites, and add a three-story extension that will house state-of-the-art therapy rooms and dining rooms.  

In 2007-08, the facility’s original site, first opened in 1924, was transformed to create the continuing care retirement community in the areaToday, Smith Village is home to 300 adults, age 62 and older, in independent and assisted-living, memory care, short-term stay and skilled nursing care. Residents benefit from healthcare and lifestyle programs.  

Participating in ground-breaking ceremony on Oct. 17 were Smith Village Executive Director Marti Jatis, President and CEO Of Smith Senior Living Kevin McGee, Cook County Commissioner John P. Daley, 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea, Chicago Deputy Mayor/Economic and Neighborhood Development Samis Mayekar and Smith Village family member Cathi Hogan.  

Chicago Architecture Buffs Coming Back to Beverly/Morgan Park Neighborhood Oct. 19 and 20  

Chicago Architecture Buffs Coming Back to Beverly/Morgan Park Neighborhood Oct. 19 and 20  

 

Eleven sites in Beverly/Morgan Park will be among nearly 350 of Chicago’s most intriguing buildings opening their doors for the Chicago Architecture Center’s (CAC) 9th annual Open House Chicago (OHC). Last year, Beverly/Morgan Park sites were included for the first time on the free, behind-the-scenes event, and nearly 3,000 visitors arrived on our community doorstep – most of them for the first time. This years tour will showcase several new locations, as well as a few of last year’s favorites.  

One of the world’s largest architecture festivals, Open House Chicago is a two-day public event taking place Sat., Oct. 19 and Sun., Oct. 20, with most sites open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, but check the Open House Chicago Event Guide, available at all participating locations, for any time limitations.   

The Beverly Area Planning Association worked with OHC planners to identify and recruit Beverly/Morgan Park locations for this year’s event.  

“We are thrilled that people from all over Chicagoland will have a chance to get an inside look at the diverse architecture and historic buildings that make Beverly/Morgan Park so amazing,” said BAPA Executive Director Susan Flood. “Being on Open House Chicago’s map has the potential to bring more new visitors to our neighborhood. BAPA is proud to be a partner in this citywide event.”  

Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin recommended the Givins Beverly Castle in his top ten list of Open House Chicago sites to see this year. In the item, Kamin wrote, “In addition to its wealth of Prairie Style houses, the Far South Side’s Beverly neighborhood boasts this curiosity A castle-like mansion built of rock-solid Joilet limestone . . . it is a Beverly icon and Chicago’s only castle.” 

Beverly/Morgan Park Open House Chicago locations offering behind-the-scenes tours are:  

Wild Blossom Meadery & Winery 

9030 S. Hermitage Ave.  

Chicago’s first meadery uses local ingredients and its own honey – there are hives on the property – to create a wide variety of mead flavors and styles. The transformation into the production facility and tasting room was designed by Moss Design in 2017 and features soaring ceilings and huge windows overlooking patio, garden and Dan Ryan Woods Forest Preserve.  

Beverly Hills Tennis Club 

9121 S. Hamilton Ave.  

Founded in 1919 by a group of tennis-playing families, the current club property was purchased in 1926 and the first four courts were built with clay salvaged from a nearby street construction project. The clubhouse was built in 1928, designed to be converted into a private home, just in case finances became shaky. Soon after, the other four courts were built. The club survived the Great Depression and continued to grow. The clubhouse was remodeled in 1964 and three years later, fast-dry courts were installed. New clay is laid down every year to keep courts in top condition. In 1972, a regulation size platform tennis court was added. A more recent remodeling enabled year-round use of the club house 

Christ the King Roman Catholic Church 

9235 S. Hamilton Ave.  

Christ the King parish was established in 1926 and the current church was constructed in 1955, designed by John Jay Fox Jr. of Fox & Fox Architects, a firm that specialized in designing Catholic schools and churchesFox was a Beverly/Morgan Park resident and active Christ the King parishioner until he died in 2003. The fan shaped church was built on an angle and uses a blend of modern and traditional design emphasizing the symbols of crown and cross inside and outAbove the entrance is a stained glass and bronze figure of Christ the King. Marble and mahogany add to the beauty in the sanctuary. The mural about the windows is paintings on canvas finished in a mosaic effect.  

John H. Vanderpoel Art Association Gallery 

9625 S. Longwood Dr.  

The collection of fine 19th and 20th Century art began with the acquisition of a work by Dutch artist John H. Vanderpoel, at one time a Beverly/Morgan Park resident and instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The gallery is located in the Ridge Park field house, which was designed by John T. Hetherington in 1913 and in 1929 remodeled by Hetherington and his son Murray Hetherington, adding the wing that houses the extraordinary art collection. The collection is composed of nearly 500 works by noted American painters and sculptors, including Mary Cassatt and Daniel Chester French.  

Trinity United Methodist Church 

9848 S. Winchester  

Formed from two congregations each with roots back to the 1800sTrinity United Methodist Church was organized Beverly/Morgan Park in 1920, but the formidable gothic church and courtyard we see today were not built until after the Great Depression, and dedicated in 1940. Patterned after the Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago, the church is designed in the shape of a cross with the chancel at the head of the cross, the transepts forming the arms, the nave forming the body and the narthex at the foot. The sanctuary and chapel showcase exceptional stained glass rich in color and symbolism. The windows in the nave depict stories from the bible.  

The Givins Beverly Castle 

10244 S. Longwood Dr.  

The community’s best known landmark was built in 1886-87 by real estate developer Robert C. Givins and originally used as his private residence. The three-story Irish castle is built from solid limestone and features crenelated turrets, stained glass and elaborate oak woodwork.  In the mid-1890s it was briefly rented to a private school for girls, then transformed back into a private home, wired for electricity and later sold to a physician. It has been home of Beverly Unitarian Church since 1942. Funds are currently being raised to repair and restore the roof and turrets. Learn more at givinsbeverlycastle.org.  

Ridge Historical Society 

10621 S. Seeley Ave.  

The Tudor Revival terraced mansion was designed by John T. Hetherington in 1921 and built in 1922. Terraced into the hill, the home was built for the Herbert S. Graver family and later owned by the Driscoll family, which donated it to the Ridge Historical Society in 1972. It is now officially named the Graver-Driscoll House. The Society maintains extensive archives and collections used for research, programs and exhibits, and works to preserve, protect and promote the history of the Ridge communities.  

Ingersoll-Blackwelder House 

10910 S. Prospect Ave. 

One of the oldest homes in Beverly/Morgan Park, the Queen Anne front of the house was built in 1873-74 and the Italianate style back added in 1877. The house was built for Isaac and Gertrude Blackwelder – he was the first president of the Village of Morgan Park and she was the first woman to vote in a groundbreaking 1913 Cook County electionThe Elegant Victorian home was owned and restored by nationally recognized artist the late Jack Simmerling, and features carefully preserved architectural and design details 

Morgan Park Presbyterian Church 

11056 S. Longwood Dr.  

The first congregation of Morgan Park Presbyterian Church build a church adjacent to the Rock Island Railroad (for which many church members worked) in 1892. In 1933, fire destroyed the original church, and despite being in the throes of the Great Depression, the faithful congregation engraved a stone from the original church and laid it as the new church cornerstone in 1934. The new gothic church with the soaring tower was built on the foundation of the original church and  dedicated in 1941The sanctuary was designed by Albert F. Heino with carved oak piers framing lancet windows and exquisite stained glass windows telling stories from the Old and New Testaments.   

Morgan Park Academy Alumni Hall 

2153 W. 111th St.  

Built on the campus of what is now a private co-ed school founded in 1873 as Morgan Park Military Academy, Alumni Hall was completed in 1927 as a memorial to academy cadets who served in World War I, including seven who lost their lives. Note the restored military-inspired murals discovered during a remodeling. The building was designed by Ralph H. Oliver, an architect with Holmes and Finn and a 1904 academy graduate. The main hall on the second floor was built with 30-foor high ceilings and modeled after English baronial halls. Now used as the MPA library, the room features oak paneled walls, an enormous fireplace and wooden beams. 

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Mission 

11652 S. Church St.  

Sacred Heart was founded in 1892 for French settler, many of whom worked at the Purington Brick Yards nearby. The original wooden frame church was built on posts over a swamp in 1904-05. According to local folklore, Purington workers were allowed to take bricks that were not fit to sell, and that over the years, collected a few at a time, enough were accumulated to build the present brick structure around the old frame church in 1922. Due to declining attendance, the church was closed in 1979 and scheduled to be demolished but reopened in late 1982 as a mission of Holy Name of Mary Parish – there are only three other mission churches in Chicago – and with the caveat that the building would be brought up to fire and safety codes 

Open House Chicago is a free event with sites downtown and in 38 neighborhoods, including sacred spaces, private clubs, repurposed mansions, skyscrapers, offices and industrial facilities.  

The Chicago Architecture Center is recruiting volunteers to help out at sites via openhousechicago.org/volunteer and people who wish to help out locally through BAPA can contact Grace Kuikman, gkuikman@bapa.org 

Wintrust is the presenting sponsor of Open House Chicago.   

Game, Set, Match! Beverly Hills Tennis Club Celebrates Centennial 

By Kristin Boza 

The Beverly Hills Tennis Club (BHTC), a private social tennis club located at 9121 S. Hamilton Ave., is celebrating an incredible milestone this month: its 100th anniversary. The BHTC began in 1919 when a group of tennis-loving families came together to form it; a few years later, it was incorporated by the State of Illinois and became an official club. The current location is even as original as it gets, although the BHTC spent its first year at around 90th and Hamilton — since the area was mainly farmland, it’s not easy to pinpoint the exact location of that first tennis court. 

Throughout the following decades, BHTC members continually made upgrades and improvements, making it one of the premier courts in Chicago. The BHTC even hosted the Chicago District Tennis Association tournament from the 1960s to 1990s. The BHTC originated in a membership model of single-person entry, but all that changed in the 1970s when the Tobin, Stanton and Frazel families asked if their families could join. Moving to include family membership started a tradition that continues to this day of Beverly/Morgan Park area families enjoying the sport and social aspects of the BHTC. 

Joe Stoiber is the current president of the BHTC Board. As avid tennis players since childhood, Stoiber and his wife joined the club when they moved back to Beverly to start a family. “The club is very family-oriented, but also hosts various social events for adults, too,” he said. “We have one of the few clay courts in the Chicago area, which is a wonderful surface to play on, especially for anyone with joint challenges. Since we open at 6:30 a.m., early risers can get in a game before work; and we’re open until 10 p.m. thanks to the well-lit courts.” 

Opening celebrations each spring coincide with the Kentucky Derby, and the club doesn’t close until the first snow of the winter; one year, they were open until Thanksgiving due to the mild weather.  

Ladies Night is Tuesday, and Men’s Night is Thursday. Since the club is BYO, these nights are also great social events and patrons can cook food on the provided grill and share in a few drinks as they socialize between matches. 

Many members say their favorite event of the year is the Woodie Tournament, when members can only play with wood rackets. “Tennis rackets have gone from the Flintstones to Star Wars in the last 15 to 20 years, and wooden rackets are basically obsolete now,” Stoiber said. “We brought the tradition back about 10 years ago, and it’s so fun because wood rackets are a lot less forgiving than the rackets we’re used to now.” 

Stoiber points out that the BHTC is open to anyone who enjoys tennis. Prospective members are asked to get a recommendation from a current member. 

“The BHTC is extremely affordable and it’s just a really fun place,” Stoiber said. “One of the perks is that we don’t charge court fees; there’s a small equity payment to get into the club, then members pay their dues annually.”  

To celebrate the Centennial milestone, the BHTC is hosting a Block Party on Sat., Jun. 8 for current and former members and their guests. A pig roast feast will be featured, as well as bouncy houses, sno cones, ice cream, demos from tennis racket manufacturers and a performance by local band Cloud of Shame. And of course, the Centennial Tennis Tournament where the ages of the players on each team must add up to at least 100 years. 

“The BHTC is open to anyone, even those who are beginner tennis players,” Stoiber said. “We offer private lessons to all members, but any new member is welcome to take part in a free lesson each Wednesday night; it is much more fun for everyone when you know how to play. We also offer summer lessons for kids that are open to non-members as well.”  

To find out how to become a member, visit BeverlyHillsTennisClub.com or email admin@beverlyhillstennisclub.com.