Bryn Mawr Takes Its Bows

On July 12, 1995, Alderman Mary Ann Smith (48th) and Edgewater civic leaders cut a ribbon stretched across the street and sent red, white and blue balloons skyward to mark the entry of Bryn Mawr Avenue, from the lakefront to Broadway, on the National Register of Historic Places.

The new National Historic District features some of Chicago's best architecture from the first four decades of the 20th century. Two of the district's buildings -- the Edgewater Beach Apartments and the newly renovated Manor House -- had already been accorded landmark status based on their own merits.

The landmarking of Bryn Mawr is an important part of a multifaceted effort by the alderman and local groups to polish the faded luster of one of Edgewater's historical jewels. Inspiring them is a 1930's photo of Bryn Mawr showing a tree-lined street, well-kept building exteriors and spacious, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks.

The city will fund a joint venture, including local architect (and EHS V.P.) Thom Greene, to design a street-scaping plan for Bryn Mawr. According to Greene, the plan will call for things such as wider sidewalks, more trees, street corner gardens, old fashioned street lamps, facade improvements, banners, and a landscaped gateway at Bryn Mawr and the lakefront.

Besides the obvious prestige, the landmark designation also brings with it numerous tax credits for rehabbing buildings. Developer Peter Holsten intends to take advantage of these to rehab the 231-unit Bryn Mawr Apartments at 5550 N. Kenmore Avenue, and the 140-unit Belle Shore Apartments at 1062 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue.

The effort for Historic District designation was conceived by community residents and carried out by a partnership of local groups, businesses and city agencies. Task force members included the Edgewater Community Council, the Edgewater Development Corporation, and the East Edgewater Chamber of Commerce.

The Edgewater Beach Apartments, Manor House, Edgewater Presbyterian Church, Tudor Manor, the Bryn Mawr and Belle Shore apartment hotels, EHS and private citizens all helped to convince authorities that the area belonged on the National Historic Register. The two articles following this introduction, Bryn Mawr -- The Historical Perspective and Bryn Mawr Remembered, aptly demonstrate the avid conviction of the Edgewater community when it comes to preserving and protecting our historical legacy.

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