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Elmhurst's First Neighborhood – Part 2

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un named mapThis is our second look at a neighborhood so iconic, as far we can tell no one ever thought to name it. Stretching from St. Charles Road on the North to the Prairie Path on the South and York Street to Spring Road, it was home to estates built for the most important forefathers of Elmhurst. This time we are going to look at some of the unusual architecture in the area, as well as, some other points of interest in its history.

One of the oldest features of Elmhurst, is the Elmhurst Great Western Prairie, which runs five miles through Elmhurst and has been billed as “A Piece of the Past…A Part of the Future.” The path started out as a clearing for train tracks, which was Prairie Pathmowed but not developed. When the railroad tracks were removed, the Illinois Prairie Path was established with native prairie plants once again growing wild and preserving a part of Illinois history. As one of only a few original prairies remaining, it is a reminder of what the landscape looked like as the settlers arrived and showcases over 150 species of plants including shooting star, spiderwort, asters, coneflowers, and large bluestem and Indian grasses.

490 S. York

Adjacent to the Prairie Path, a regal reminder of days gone by sits at 490 South York Street. This home was occupied for a time by a Baron von Bielenfield and his family, after being occupied by Mrs. Mary Goebel, the great granddaughter of Conrad Fischer, one of Elmhurst’s earliest settlers.

From 1920 to 1924, part of the estate of Thomas B. Bryan was home to an orphanage at the southwest corner of York Street and St. Charles Road. It was run by the Sisters of St. Mary and was called the St. Mary’s Home for Children. When the facility closed, the children were moved to an orphanage on Jackson Boulevard in Chicago.Fred LaFave Addition

We talked about the Lindlahr Sanitarium last time. A young builder named Fred LaFave, an associate of Walter Burley Griffin and Frank Lloyd Wright, purchased the land where the sanitarium stood and renamed it LaFave’s Addition, roughly consisting of Prospect and Mitchell from St. Charles Road to Eggleston.

413 Mitchell

The LaFave family made their home in part of the old sanitarium building while all of the other buildings were torn down to make room for the new homes, featuring many different designs. The ones that stand out, however, exhibit a definite Spanish influence on Mitchell and the beautiful Tudor at 204 W.  St. Charles Road.

The homes in this subdivision currently range from $300,000 to over a million dollars. Some of the homes for sale today were built while Elmhurst was in its heyday and reflect the glory and majesty of the gilded age of Elmhurst. If you are interested in looking at homes in this or any of Elmhurst’s unique neighborhoods, call a knowledgeable realtor at LW Reedy.

Residents of this neighborhood are in the award winning Elmhurst School District 205 and would attend Hawthorne Elementary Grade School, Sandburg Middle School and York High School. Click here for more information on those schools, links to school reports and more.

All pictures were provided by the Elmhurst Historical Museum. Special thanks to Nancy Wilson of the Elmhurst Historical Museum for her help and support.

3 Responses

  1. m.s.Woods says:

    This was an interesting article. The Great Western Prairie reminded me of the Monon Trail we have here in Indianapolis that runs up through Carmel and Westfield. It was an old railroad track as well and a perfect way to create a walk/bike friendly path to connect the communities. Here is an article on it with pictures if you have any interest. Monon Trail

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