Established in 2003, West Ridge Bungalow Neighbors is a voluntary group of neighbors in Chicago who desire to assist each other in preserving and appreciating the homes in our neighborhood; educating each other and the broader public in the value and the story of our neighborhood; and providing resources to each other to improve the quality of our homes, enrich our lives and assure our neighborhood's future.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Derrick's Avalon Bungalow BBQ

On Saturday we trekked to Chicago's Avalon neighborhood for a tour of Derrick's mural-filled home. This must be one of the cleanest, best preserved bungalows in the city. And the murals --I've never seen anything like them in a bungalow or elsewhere. Hand painted and original to the home, they fill all four walls of the dining room.
When I asked Derrick what work he'd done to the place he said "Nothing - I just moved my furniture in. Oh yeah, and I painted a couple of rooms". (As someone who spent about a year painting over pink woodwork, I'm more than a little envious.) Come to find out, Derrick is only the second owner of this home. The first owner spent his entire life here, a flipper bought & cleaned up the place, and Derrick moved in.

We were privileged to meet Derrick's mom as well as his neighbors, William Cousins and his daughter Cheryl. Mr. Cousins has a remarkable life story:
"Like many Chicagoans, William Cousins, Jr., has his roots in the South. Cousins was born in 1927, in Swiftown, Mississippi. His family moved to Memphis, Tennessee and then to Chicago. Cousins graduated from DuSable High School on the city's South Side in 1945. He received his B. A. degree in political science from the University of Illinois, where he graduated with honors in 1948. Cousins then went on to Harvard Law School, receiving his LL.B. in 1951.

Cousins served his country as an infantry lieutenant in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1953. He continued as an active army reservist for twenty years and retired as a lieutenant colonel. Cousins began practicing law in 1953 as an attorney with the Chicago Title & Trust Company. From 1957 to 1961, he served as a Republican Assistant State's Attorney. Cousins entered private practice with the law firm of Turner, Cousins, Gavin and Watt. In 1967, Cousins was elected as a "Free Democratic" alderman from Chicago's Eighth Ward.

As an alderman, Cousins worked outside of Chicago's powerful political machine and was reelected as an independent until 1976, when he ran for Circuit Court Judge of Cook County and won. Over the next twenty-six years, Cousins presided as a judge on the Illinois Appellate Court and the Cook County Circuit Court. He was also appointed to various positions, including chairman of the Illinois Judicial Conference and as a member of the Special Supreme Court Committee on Capital Cases. While working as a judge, Cousins also served as Chairman of the Illinois Judicial Council, Chairman of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association and as a Board member of the National Center for State Courts.

Before election to the judiciary, Cousins dedicated his time and talents to an array of organizations and causes, including Chicago Area Planned Parenthood Association and Operation PUSH." (From The History Makers)
Thanks, Derrick for introducing us to Avalon, your wonderful neighbors and your beautiful abode.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Elks Veterans Memorial

Ever wondered what's inside this building? Me too. Last night Preservation Chicago hosted their annual fall fundraising event at the spectacular Elks Memorial. This was the first non-Elk event ever to be held at the Memorial which made the evening even more special.

Built in 1926 at the same time many of our West Ridge bungalows were constructed, the Memorial boasts room after room of marble, carved wood and magnificent murals and sculpture. You can take a virtual tour here but if you have the chance, I highly recommend you see it in person. Wandering through this building made me wish I had time to explore all of the hidden treasures that must exist all over Chicago.
(Photos from the Elks website.)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Explore Avalon with WRBN on September 26

WRBNeighbor Derrick invites all members to explore Chicago's Avalon community and visit his exceptional home for a tour and Barbeque on Saturday, September 26th. Watch for an email with details, coming soon! That's Derrick's place above with a group of WRBN visitors last fall.

Thanks, Frank!

Pictured above is is the old broken copper 1929 weathervane from the Indian Boundary Park field house, and WRBNeighbor and Roycroft master caftsmanFrank Glapa with the new, handcrafted weathervane he made as a gift to the park.
With donation from neighborhood organizations, Frank also made new planter boxes for the front of the Green Briar Park field house.