WTTW Chicago: Ask Geoffrey, The Story of Hyde Park’s Rosalie Villas

“A tucked-away street on the city’s South Side is a time capsule from the days before the neighborhood was even part of Chicago.

“Geoffrey Baer has the story of Hyde Park’s Rosalie Villas in this week’s Ask Geoffrey.

“‘I grew up in Hyde Park on a stretch of Harper Avenue where most of what appear to be the original frame houses are still standing. We were told that when the homes were built, the nearby train tracks were at ground level. We were even told that the original homeowners were allowed to have boats and could drag them across the tracks onto the beach. Is any of this true?’ — Julia S., Hyde Park

“These charming homes on Harper Avenue in Hyde Park between 57th and 59th streets were part of the neighborhood’s first planned community known as Rosalie Villas, built way back in the 1880s.

“Remarkably, almost all of these Queen Anne and shingle-style homes are still standing almost 140 years later, albeit with some remodeling and restoration.

“The development was established by Rosalie Buckingham, a wealthy heiress whose name Chicagoans will likely recognize from Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park, named for Rosalie’s cousin, Clarence. The Buckinghams were one of early Chicago’s wealthiest families, having made their money in the grain elevator business, among other endeavors.

“The houses on Harper Avenue were designed to attract the middle- and upper-middle class professionals of the 1880s. Some are thought to have even been marketed as lakefront vacation homes.

“This was back when Hyde Park was part of the larger Hyde Park Township – a huge swath of the South Side that was not yet part of Chicago. It was annexed to the city in 1889. (Myers, WTTW Chicago, 10/27/20)

Watch the full story at WTTW Chicago

Ask Geoffrey: The Story of Hyde Park’s Rosalie Villas, Quinn Myers, WTTW Chicago, 10/27/20


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