Ridge Historical Society

Ridge Historical Society RHS is non-profit historical society and archive for the Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood neighborhoods on Chicago's southwest side.

RHS was founded in 1971 and is located in a historic mansion on the ridge, the Graver-Driscoll House, located on Longwood Drive, the major thoroughfare which runs the length of the ridge. RHS is primarily volunteer-driven, with a Board of Directors elected annually by the membership. RHS has accumulated a vast variety of materials from the earliest recorded history of the area to present times. Holdings include community newspapers, church bulletins, scrapbooks, family manuscript collections, historical real estate listings, maps, photographs, glass slides, historic costumes, textiles and physicalo artifacts. The collections are available to the public through exhibits, outreach programs, the website (undergoing revision) and research requests.

RHS was founded in 1971 and is located in a historic mansion on the ridge, the Graver-Driscoll House, located on Longwood Drive, the major thoroughfare which runs the length of the ridge. RHS is primarily volunteer-driven, with a Board of Directors elected annually by the membership. RHS has accumulated a vast variety of materials from the earliest recorded history of the area to present times. Holdings include community newspapers, church bulletins, scrapbooks, family manuscript collections, historical real estate listings, maps, photographs, glass slides, historic costumes, textiles and physicalo artifacts. The collections are available to the public through exhibits, outreach programs, the website (undergoing revision) and research requests.

Mission: RHS is a not-for-profit 501(C)3 organization. The mission is to collect, preserve and make available to the public, documents, photographs, newspapers, artifacts and other materials related to the history of the Chicago communities of Beverly Hills, Morgan Park, and Washington Heights located along the area known as the Blue Island Ridge; to encourage interest in the history of this area; and to present educational programs and exhibits of the collection.

Operating as usual

The Ridge Historical SocietyFebruary - Black History Month –#4By Carol FlynnOur fourth person of distinction with a scho...

The Ridge Historical Society
February - Black History Month –#4
By Carol Flynn

Our fourth person of distinction with a school on the Ridge named for him to be profiled for Black History Month is Marcus Garvey.

Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr. (1887-1940) was a political activist, journalist, and businessman born on the Caribbean island of Jamaica. He lived for over a decade in the United States. Although during his lifetime his viewpoints were considered controversial, with time his encouragement of pride and self-worth for people of African descent influenced Black leaders and movements. Some have called him the “Father of African Nationalism.”

Garvey’s entire history is too involved to cover in a Facebook post. There are many sources of information about him online that readers are encouraged to investigate.

From an early age on, Garvey’s experiences with social and economic hierarchies based on color led him to become an advocate for improving the status of people of African origin. His belief was that the initiative had to come from within the African community itself.

Garvey believed strongly in the equality and separation of the races, and in racial purity. Although he established a loyal following, his separatist views were at direct odds with most Black leaders of the day, including W. E. B. DuBois and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), who were working for integration into American society.

After his death in London in 1940, his status as an advocate grew. In 1964, his remains were returned to Jamaica and buried with a ceremony worthy of a national hero.

African American and world leaders have acknowledged they were influenced by Garvey. Martin Luther King, Jr., visited his tomb in 1965 and said: "Marcus Garvey was the first man of color to lead and develop a mass movement. He was the first man on a mass scale and level to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny, and make the Negro feel he was somebody."

In 1971, a new Chicago public school at 10309 S. Morgan Street in Washington Heights was being built and the residents of the community the school would serve, primarily African Americans, had been asked to submit potential names. They submitted several, including Marcus Garvey. All of the names were rejected. This happened twice, and then they decided to rally for Garvey’s name.

The School Board maintained that Garvey was not appropriate because he was a separatist and had been in jail, and this would not be a good example for children. The community leaders’ response was that they had the right to pick their own heroes. Garvey was the first real global activist for Black pride, solidarity, and power, and therefore a worthy model. Naming a school for a person did not mean agreement with all his beliefs.

The School Board finally voted narrowly in favor of the name. In 1974, it was announced that the new would be named for Marcus Garvey.

The Ridge Historical SocietyOriginal and colorized historic photos - #1Colorization by John Dreznes of Beverly Records T...

The Ridge Historical Society
Original and colorized historic photos - #1

Colorization by John Dreznes of Beverly Records

The Van Laten family farmed an extensive amount of land in the area including the land the Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences is on at 111th to 115th S. Pulaski, plus land in Merrionette Park that included the Jewel strip mall at 115th and Kedzie Avenue, and land at 115th and Western Avenue, where they had their house and poultry farm.

Their farm stand was located at 112th and Western and later 101st and Western. The sign says their farm is at 95th and Kedzie.

The photo is ca. 1932-33.

Beverly Records and Colorized PhotosBy Carol FlynnWe're going to take this opportunity to introduce a new feature on the...
Beverly Records in Chicago / 50 Year Collection of Records & Memories - Record Store Documentary

Beverly Records and Colorized Photos
By Carol Flynn

We're going to take this opportunity to introduce a new feature on the Ridge Historical Society page. Here is a video showcasing Beverly Records at 11612 S. Western Avenue (which is technically Morgan Park but it's all the Ridge) which has been in operation for over 50 years, making it a historic business in the area.

John Dreznes, the "youngster" in the video, is a local history buff and loyal follower of RHS. He recently started colorizing old photos from the Ridge just for fun, and they are so interesting, we're going to share them on the RHS page.

These colorized pictures are not "official" in any way, but they help us envision better what things likely looked like before color photography.

The first colorized image will be posted a little later, but for now, here's the video.


In HiFi America Season 2 Episode 2 we take a Record Store Documentary style tour of Beverly Records in Beverly, Chicago. This store has been family owned sin...

The Ridge Historical Society is saddened to learn of the death of Board member Kevin Bourke. Kevin was a very enthusiast...

The Ridge Historical Society is saddened to learn of the death of Board member Kevin Bourke. Kevin was a very enthusiastic supporter of RHS and local history and always willing to step up and lend a hand. Here he is at RHS during Open House Chicago (OHC) in September of 2019, greeting guests and discussing RHS, the Graver-Driscoll House, and local history. Kevin is in the red OHC t-shirt.

Here is a link to his obituary. RIP and thank you, Kevin. Our sincerest condolences to his family.

The Ridge Historical SocietyFebruary - Black History Month –#3By Carol FlynnOur third person of distinction with a schoo...

The Ridge Historical Society
February - Black History Month –#3
By Carol Flynn

Our third person of distinction with a school on the Ridge named for him to be profiled for Black History Month is Judge Wendell Green.

Wendell Elbert Green (1887-1959) was a lawyer and judge who had a distinguished career in Cook County, Illinois. He was considered a brilliant defense attorney, with a “forceful expression.” As a judge, he was known for his “clarity of judgment” and professional decorum.

Born in Kansas, Green was the son of an Episcopalian minister and a social worker. He yearned to become a lawyer, but others convinced him that the opportunities for Black men were limited in this field. He earned a degree in pharmacy from the University of Kansas in 1908. He worked as a pharmacist for a few years, but he still dreamt of practicing law.

In 1913, Green married Loraine Richardson, who would also become well-known in Chicago as the first Black woman to serve on the Chicago Board of Education. He took a civil service job as a postal clerk in order to transfer to Chicago in 1916 so Lorraine and he could attend the University of Chicago. Green worked his full-time postal job, went to school at night, and took a second job serving meals on campus to pay their tuition. He was told by the dean of the school he would never be able to complete the law program.

He graduated in 1920.

Establishing a private practice, he built his reputation as a defense attorney who rarely lost a case. The Chicago Defender newspaper carried many stories about Green’s appearances in court. One pivotal event happened in 1924.

Green was defending a Black man against the charge of intoxication. One white police officer said the man had been intoxicated at an event; nine Black witnesses said this was not the case. Green asked for the charges to be dropped but the judge replied that in his opinion the nine witnesses were lying.

The judge said, “It has been my experience in this court that colored people lie on the slightest provocation. They will lie when there is no need to lie. That is why I believe one white witness against your nine.”

Green was speechless for a moment, then he addressed the court, “his voice charged with anger, re-sounding through the courtroom.” He berated the judge for not being fair and impartial; by law, color should not be the test for credibility. He said that veracity and perjury belonged to no particular race, that the lying and perjured testimony of white witnesses had done great wrong, and that the judge had no right to decide the case based on the color of the witnesses.

Green then withdrew from the case and, taking up his hat and coat, left the courtroom.

The courtroom sat in an “electrified” silence. Then the judge, with “a flushed countenance,” dismissed the defendant. Attendees of both races rushed into the corridor to congratulate Green.

Green served as a public defender, then as a Civil Service Commissioner appointed by Mayor Edward Kelly. In 1942, he was elected as a judge to the Municipal Court of Chicago.

Governor Adlai Stevenson appointed Green to fill a vacancy on the Cook County Circuit Court in 1951, and he won re-election to this position the following year. Green was the first Black person to reach this judicial level. During his time on the Municipal and Circuit Courts, Green tried cases ranging from a landlord accused of overcharging a tenant $1.25 on his rent, to a sensational case of a police officer charged with the murder of two young men following an off-duty altercation in a bar.

From 1956 to 1958, Green was assigned by his fellow Circuit Court justices to head Juvenile Court. He was the first Black judge to oversee associate judges hearing cases for runaways, truancies, and delinquencies. He helped set up a facility focused on psychological services and training for the juveniles who came before the bench. His effort to help young people is considered by many to be Green’s greatest legacy left to the city and the people.

Because Blacks were not allowed to join white legal associations, they started their own groups. Green was active in the Cook County Bar Association (CCBA), the oldest association for Black lawyers and judges in the country. In 1925, he was one of the thirteen founders of the National Bar Association (originally the Negro Bar Association). When the Chicago Bar Association finally accepted Black members beginning in the 1940s, Green joined. The Chicago Bar Association always gave the highest ratings to Green for his performance as a judge.

Green served as president of the board of Provident Hospital, the first Black-owned and operated hospital in the country, established in Chicago in 1891 to provide medical services and training to Blacks denied access at other institutions. Green was also a board member of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

In 1973, the Chicago Board of Education voted unanimously to name the new school at 1150 W. 96th Street in Wendell E. Green’s honor.

The Ridge Historical SocietyFebruary - Black History Month –#2By Carol FlynnThe second person who has a school named for...

The Ridge Historical Society
February - Black History Month –#2
By Carol Flynn

The second person who has a school named for her in a Ridge community to be profiled for Black History Month is Reverend Johnnie Colemon.

Johnnie Colemon (1920 – 2014) was a religious leader who inspired tens of thousands of people. She was a trailblazer who opened paths for other African American women to enter the ministry. And even though she had numerous honors and distinctions, she always insisted people just call her Johnnie.

Johnnie was born in Alabama and raised in Mississippi. In 1943, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Wylie College, a historically Black college located in Texas. She moved to Chicago and became a Chicago public school teacher.

In 1952, a health crisis took her to the Unity Church, which was founded in 1889 as a spiritual healing ministry. Today it is part of the “New Thought” movement.

Johnnie visited Unity headquarters near Kansas City, Missouri, and immediately felt at home with the teachings. She was accepted into the Unity School of Christianity, but even though the church taught that each person was a unique expression of God, sacred and worthy, Black students were not allowed to live in the school’s cottages or eat in the school restaurant, and had to sit in a segregated, roped off section in church.

Johnnie voiced her objections to these arrangements, and many of the whites considered her “arrogant.” But an unused cottage was made ready for her, although it was set apart from those of the white residents. She was the first Black person to live on campus.

She became an ordained Unity minister in 1956, the first African American woman to do so. Returning to Chicago, Reverend Colemon started her own church, at first meeting in a YMCA, but in a few years raising the money for her own building.

In 1968, Rev. Colemon was elected the first Black president of the Association of Unity Churches, causing some churches to quit. She then withdrew her church from the Unity organization, in part due to the systemic racism, and also because her philosophies were developing in other directions.

At that time, she renamed her church Christ Universal Temple (CUT). She also formed her own denomination, the Universal Foundation for Better Living, that now has thirty member churches internationally.

Rev. Colemon’s influence spread. Her sermons with positive, practical, understandable messages were well-received and her congregation kept growing. By 1985, CUT had grown into a megachurch and needed a building to accommodate its size.

Financial loans were almost impossible to come by for an African American woman, but Rev. Colemon persisted, and succeeded in obtaining funding through loans and donations. She had a new facility built at 119th Street and Ashland Avenue. This facility included a 3,500-seat auditorium, chapel, bookstore, banquet facility, and prayer center. She started an institute to train ministers and teachers. Her following grew to 20,000 members.

CUT has been the site for memorable events, including a 2005 Father’s Day address by then U. S. Senator Barack Obama. Rev. Colemon lived on the same block as the Obamas in Hyde Park/Kenwood. She ordained actress/singer/author Della Reese a minister in the 1980s; they became close friends.

In addition to her ministry, Rev. Colemon also held civic positions. She was a director of the Chicago Port Authority and a commissioner on the Chicago Transit Authority Oversight Committee. Her awards, including honorary doctorates, are too numerous to list here.

In 1999, she built a private elementary school as part of the CUT complex, which was named the Johnnie Colemon Academy. Because of the necessary tuition, the school met with limited success, and beginning in 2001, the Chicago Board of Education (CBOE) took over the building for a public school.

The Johnnie Colemon name was kept for the school, even though today’s CBOE rules, in keeping with the separation of church and state, prohibit naming a public school for a religious leader.

Picture: Rev. Johnnie Colemon outside her new Christ Unity Temple when it opened in 1985. Ebony magazine.

Ridge Historical Society – For Valentines DayA Sparrow: Love in a CottageBy Carol FlynnAccording to a Chicago Tribune co...

Ridge Historical Society – For Valentines Day
A Sparrow: Love in a Cottage
By Carol Flynn

According to a Chicago Tribune column from one hundred years ago, here is an old English superstition.

On Valentines Day, the first bird a maiden sees in the morning will determine her future marriage situation. If she sees a goldfinch, she will many a millionaire; if she sees a bluebird, she will live in poverty. If she sees a blackbird, she will marry a clergyman; if she sees a redbreast, she will marry a sailor.

If she sees a flock of doves, she will have good luck.

If she sees a sparrow, she will find love in a cottage. Chances are, in Chicago, and on the Ridge, the first bird a maiden will see is an English sparrow, also called a house sparrow. These birds were brought into the United States by collectors in the mid-1800s and introduced throughout the country. Early city park planners in Chicago released them into Lincoln Park. They are now the most widely distributed birds in the wild.

The Ridge has a vast collection of houses that can be considered “cottages.” There really is no specific definition of a cottage architecturally – in fact, there is a lot of similarity in the definitions for cottage, bungalow, cabin, and like structures.

Some general characteristics of cottages are that they are smaller frame houses, one or 1.5 floors, with dormers and small porches. They are usually thought of in terms of coziness and charm. In the United States, cottages are often associated with vacation properties.

Here are some pictures of well-known cottages in Beverly and Morgan Park displaying a variety of architecture styles. Both the original as well as a more current view of each cottage is shown. Some have been substantially altered but the charm is still there.

The Ridge Historical SocietyFebruary - Black History MonthBy Carol FlynnLast year we started a series on the people for ...

The Ridge Historical Society
February - Black History Month
By Carol Flynn

Last year we started a series on the people for whom schools in our Ridge communities are named. We paused that series to cover other things.

For Black History Month, we will profile the five people of color who have schools named in their honor. We covered three last year, but we will start with repeating those, then cover the other two.

Percy Julian has the distinction of having a high school named for him.

Percy Lavon Julian (1899-1975) was a research scientist who received over 130 chemical patents during his lifetime. He was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 1973, the first African American chemist to receive this honor. He was a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs and human hormones from plants. His work led to treatments for glaucoma and infertility. When researchers showed the effectiveness of cortisone in treating rheumatoid arthritis, Julian improved the process for producing cortisone, greatly reducing costs.

Dr. Julian spent his life trying to overcome racial discrimination in education and employment. In his later years, he stated, “I feel that my own good country robbed me of the chance for some of the great experiences that I would have liked to live through. Instead, I took a job where I could get one and tried to make the best of it. I have been, perhaps, a good chemist, but not the chemist that I dreamed of being.”

Percy Julian was born in rural Alabama; one grandparent was an emancipated slave. He attended segregated schools until a white teacher who had taught Julian’s parents pulled strings to get him admitted to DePauw University in Indiana.

The school accepted him but would not allow him to live in the dorm. He found a boarding house, but they would not feed him. He went for days without eating before he found a place that would serve him. He later found work firing the furnace, waiting tables, and doing other odd jobs in a fraternity house; in return, he was allowed to sleep in the attic and eat at the house.

He was years behind the white students academically and took remedial classes at night while attending college classes during the day and working as a ditch digger. Despite all of this, he graduated first in his class and was valedictorian.

The practice at DePauw was to help students find post-graduate opportunities, however, the school would not help Julian because of his race. He was discouraged from pursuing a Ph.D. or employment in industry, and advised to find a teaching job in a “Negro college in the south.”

He received a scholarship to earn his master’s degree at Harvard University. However, because white students objected to a Black instructor, he was refused a teaching assistantship that would lead to a Ph.D.

Julian was awarded a fellowship to the University of Vienna, Austria, and earned his Ph.D. in 1931. In Europe, he was welcomed into the social, intellectual, and academic life he was denied in the U.S. He made life-long friends in the European community and helped Jewish friends escape the Holocaust.

Returning to the U.S., finding employment was difficult. Julian took a position teaching at Howard University, the historically Black university in Washington, D.C.

He then accepted a research fellowship back at DePauw, and his career as a research scientist began. However, when the fellowship ended, he was denied a teaching professorship there and had to find new employment. He was told by DePauw University “the time wasn’t right” for a Black professor.

DuPont offered a job to Julian’s research partner at DePauw, who was white, but declined to hire Julian, apologizing that the company was “unaware he was a Negro.” He turned down another position because Blacks were not allowed in the town past sundown.

Julian accepted a job at Glidden company in Chicago where he was able to continue his research. He left there in 1953 and formed his own company, which he sold in 1961 for $2.3 million.

The Julians were the first African Americans to move into Oak Park. Attempts were made to burn their house down, and a bomb was thrown at the house. The police reported they could not identify any suspects for the crimes. White neighbors formed a group to support them but even so, threats continued for many years.

Chemistry was the break-through “technology” of the early and mid-1900s. Dr. Julian achieved great things – by any standards, he was much more than a “good” chemist. But for him, the issue was how much more he might have accomplished if given the same opportunities available to white chemists. After his death, he received recognition from the schools he attended, but as one DePauw scholar noted, the university finally had to embrace Julian because he became a success, Julian did not become a success because the university embraced him.

The Percy L. Julian High School opened at 10330 S. Elizabeth Street in 1975. In 1993, he was featured on the Black Heritage stamp, a series initiated by the U.S. Postal Service in 1978.


10621 S Seeley Ave
Chicago, IL

General information

Contact RHS at 773-881-1675 or [email protected]

Opening Hours

Tuesday 12:00 - 16:00
Wednesday 09:30 - 15:00
Friday 09:00 - 12:00


(773) 881-1675


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Dear Carol, I am so excited that you did all that research. We were married on April 16th 1966. I was helping my three babies to get into the car and my ring was loose because of the cold. It flew off my finger and landed in the snow. Those babies are now 49, 50 and 51 yrs old. We had been visiting my Grandmother and were on our way home. We lived in Oak Forest at the time. Soon after we got a job transfer to Indiana and a few years later to Texas. I am 75 now and we have lived in Texas for the last 30 some years. I have never dreamed that I would have a chance to get my ring back. My husband took my engagement ring and had the stone reset in a different band for me. I lost that one many years later. It had fallen into the folds of the sofa and was gone for several years. My daughter took that old sofa when she got her first apartment. On day her boyfriend, who is now her husband for 21 yrs, was searching for the TV remote, and pushed his hand into the recesses of the sofa and found my ring. I thought that was a miracle, but this tops it all. If you could mail it to me I will reimburse you for the postage. I would also love to be able to send a thank you note to the current owners of my grandmother's house. Thank you...Karen Berk Autenrieth message me again and I will provide you with my address and phone number.
Has anyone ever done an archeological dig on the Morgan property?
On a tiny, forgotten patch of land, simply called the "Memorial Triangle," a small memorial to WWI veterans sits and waits. It's not a large tribute at 112th and Lothair in the Morgan Park neighborhood. Rather, it is an inscribed boulder that was placed after the war to honor the seven graduates of Morgan Park Military Academy who gave their lives in the Great War. For years, it was the annual gathering place for a huge celebration of what was then called Armistice Day on November 11th. In 1925, over 2,500 attended the ceremony where the "Memorial Stone" was rededicated. Although difficult to read now, the wording on the stone states: "In honor of the sons of Morgan Park who served in the World War." Perhaps no other high school in America contributed more than Morgan Park Military Academy during WWII. Approximately 875 graduates and staff served in the military and 48 never made it home. If you're ever in the area, stop by and visit the "Memorial Boulder." While the boulder may be forgotten, the memory of the veterans it honors never will be...
Tracy Ave vs. Tracy the Neighborhood?: Researching something on the North side, stumbled on a 1906 Blue Book (see Preface, page 17: http://livinghistoryofillinois.com/pdf_files/1906%20Chicago%20Blue%20Book.pdf), "a compilation of about twenty-four thousand names of the most prominent householders in Chicago and suburbs within a thirty mile radius." I knew 103rd Street was formerly-known as "Tracy Avenue." So was that area of today's Beverly known simply then as Tracy? Sort of like it is known as Beverly now, a neighborhood?
Hi! I've been trying to connect to the RHS website and it appears to be down! Just thought you would like to know!
If you attended my presentation on Chicago Railroad History at RHS, I mentioned our new poster. Its now for sale online:
The second season for Concerts at the Castle is now under way! Next up is the Charles Heath Quartet on Sat, Nov 30 @ 7pm. Proceeds for all concerts in this series benefit the Givins Beverly Castle Building Fund. Details are at www.concertsatthecastle.org.
What station was this one? my source: Ebay
Raymond. W. Evans residence 9914 South Longwood Drive, Chicago IL Built: 1908 - Image Chicago History Museum from 1910
My Dad had these Old Newspapers Articles its a part of History
Suburban Homes in Morgan Park booklet from 1886: