Preserving History and a Vibrant Future
The Alliance Honors Eugene S. Pike House Foundation at 10th Anniversary Beverly Art Walk
The Eugene S. Pike House is a historically significant building with tremendous potential to serve the Beverly/Morgan Park community. Located at 1826 W. 91st Street at the southeastern edge of the Dan Ryan Woods Forest Preserves, it was designed by noted architect Harry Hale Waterman and built in 1894 as a cottage garden getaway for the real estate developer Eugene S. Pike. The house is in the National Register of Historic Places, is part of the Ridge Historic District, and is recognized by the City of Chicago for its historical significance.
Pike’s family owned the house for many years, and in 1921 sold the property and house to the Forest Preserves District of Cook County to become part of Dan Ryan Woods. For many years, it served as a Watchman’s Residence for Dan Ryan Woods caretakers and their families. Sadly, for many years, the house was left vacant and fell into a state of extreme disrepair.
In 2022, the Historic Buildings Committee of the Ridge Historical Society and Beverly Area Planning Association nominated the house for inclusion on the Landmarks Illinois list of Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. The house was one of just five properties statewide to be included on that list, prompting the committee to reach out to other preservation agencies and community stakeholders to develop a plan for saving the Pike House.
In 2023, the Eugene S. Pike House Foundation was created and incorporated as a 501 c 3 not for profit organization with the sole purpose of raising funds for and overseeing restoration of the historic home. The Foundation partnered with the Beverly Area Arts Alliance (The Alliance) to submit proposals to the Forest Preserves District of Cook County for restoring the Pike House and using it as a fine arts facility for artist residencies, exhibits, programming, and community events.
As the home of The Alliance, the Eugene S. Pike House would become the centerpiece for the Beverly Arts & Music Incubator (BAMI), as well as offer:
- Residencies for artists, musicians, writers, poets, naturalists, and chefs
- Art Exhibitions
- Pop-up Dining Experiences
- Community Events
More About the Pike House
Eugene S. Pike (1850-1938), a prominent real estate developer and financier, once lived among Chicago’s most prestigious families on Prairie Avenue. In addition to shrewd real estate projects downtown and on the city’s expanding far South Side (including his estate in Beverly), Pike was on the Board of Directors for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.
In 1894, Pike, a garden lover, commissioned architect Harry Hale Watermen to design the gardener’s cottage in what is now North Beverly. Waterman designed many homes and buildings in Beverly, Morgan Park and Hyde Park. As a young man, he worked with Frank Lloyd Wright in the office of architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee.
For Pike, Waterman designed a picturesque Tudor Revival style house with a round tower, steeply pitched roof, and carved wood ornamentation. The house is perfectly suited to its woodland environment. In 2014, American Institute of Architects Guide to Chicago wrote in the house’s description, “Expect Hansel and Gretel to come tripping past this house set on the edge of the woods.”
In 1917, the newly formed Forest Preserves of Cook County purchased 112 acres of former farmland to create the Beverly Hills Woods, later renamed Dan Ryan Woods. In 1921, 32 acres of the Pike estate, including the gardener’s cottage, were purchased by the Forest Preserves. The house was updated in 1962, when all of the vintage architectural details except for the sunporch were removed.
After being left vacant for several years, the Forest Preserves District issued a Request for Information to find someone to take over restoration and reuse of the Pike House. When no appropriate users were found, the house was put on a list for eventual demolition. That action prompted the community to respond by getting the house listed as an Illinois endangered historic property, and taking a lead role in working with the Forest Preserves District, which sent out an updated RFI a few years ago. As advocates for the historic Beverly/Morgan Park community, Ridge Historical Society and Beverly Area Planning Association led the campaign to create the Eugene S. Pike House Foundation and identify the Beverly Area Arts Alliance as the perfect end-user to provide high level arts and programming that aligns with the Forest Preserves mission and community needs.
The Eugene S. Pike House is included in the Historic Architectural Resources Geographic Information System (HARGIS) compiled by the former Illinois Historic Preservation Agency in the 1970s, and is a contributing building in the Ridge Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places. A significant building in the context of the surrounding community, it is rated “orange” in the city’s Chicago Historic Resources Survey.
The Pike House is a community landmark, situated in the only section of the Forest Preserves of Cook County that is entirely located within the city. The house sits on the tip of the Blue Island Ridge, a geological feature formed by glacial activity 12,000 years ago. It is just steps from the historic 91st Street Rock Island (Metra) train station, the Major Taylor bike trail, and the city’s only meadery.