Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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8th Ward to discuss proposed Oakton Historic District

Jack Weiss’ 1991 silver sedan crawled down Harvard Terrace on Wednesday afternoon, but his mind was far from the road – and the loud honk from the red station wagon behind him.

“This is a corner bungalow,” he said, pointing to one house. “Here’s a craftsman-style bungalow,” he said pointing to a second house, one with stone pillars.

It takes more than an impatient driver to quell Weiss’ interest in the local architecture. He pointed to yet another house, a yellow one with big bay windows that he said are typical of Chicago-style bungalows.

If 62-year-old Weiss, a 34-year Evanston resident, has his way, all those houses would be part of the proposed Oakton Historic District, first publicly suggested by Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) at the Oct. 8 City Council meeting.

Rainey, Weiss and others will speak and answer questions about the new district at 7 p.m. Nov. 1 at Oakton Elementary School.

The new district will be bound in the north by Oakton Street and in the south by Howard Street. Its eastern limit will be Ridge Avenue and it will end at Asbury Avenue in the west.

Although there is no legal requirement for public approval to establish a historic district, Weiss wants to gauge public opinion.

“We’re sensitive to the interests and concerns of our community, and we intend to seek that approval in a general way before we move ahead,” he said.

Weiss expects some opposition to the district because it would force property owners to get most home-improvement plans approved by the Evanston Preservation Commission.

“People who feel they don’t want any government control of their personal property may object,” he said.

Weiss said he already has the support of several community members who have promised to speak at next week’s meeting including Ryan Kettelkamp, 35, a one-year resident on Brummel Street.

“It’s a cohesive neighborhood, and we want to preserve that,” Kettelkamp said. “(The houses) were built at a time when people really cared about materials and quality of construction.”

“I don’t think one of the goals it to trap the neighborhood in a time capsule,” Kettelkamp said.

Most projects only require the commission’s approval. Projects like a new deck or porch would require full reviews by the commission.

The neighborhood’s main architectural feature is the bungalow, a housing design popular in Chicago in the 1920s. Bungalows are one-and-a-half-story buildings usually built with bricks and limestones, Weiss said.

Other features common to bungalows include high-ceiling basements and a large number of windows.

Other houses in the area are two-story bungalow-styled buildings. Even condominiums in the area have elements similar to bungalows, Weiss said.

Weiss also notes that Maj. Edward Mulford, one of Evanston’s first residents, lived at what is now 250 Ridge Ave., within the boundaries of the proposed district. Mulford ran a tavern on Ridge Avenue that served many travellers who were making their way between Chicago and Milwaukee.

Weiss hopes a historic district designation would give the neighborhood more recognition.

“There’s an image of the eighth Ward and of South Evanston that (they’re) not even part of Evanston,” he said.

Kettelkamp agrees. “This neighborhood has been hidden,” he said.

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8th Ward to discuss proposed Oakton Historic District