West Park Neighborhood Recognized on National Register, 2012

The Lake Forest Preservation Foundation is pleased to announce its application for the recognition of the West Park Neighborhood District as a National Register District has been accepted by the National Park Service.

Listing the West Park Neighborhood District on the National Register does not create any special restrictions on the buildings. Listing on the National Register of Historic places is a National Park Service designation and is honorary in nature.

The District comprises 134 properties including 130 single family residences (and garages), three duplexes, the park property and the club house/warming pavilion along with the tennis courts and playing fields. The new historic District is bound by the open space of the park facing Green Bay Road on the west, houses on the north side of Atteridge Road on the north, houses on both sides of Oakwood on the East and houses on the north side of Woodland on the south.

The District consists of two different subdivisions planned between 1887 and 1907.  Holt's Subdivision was laid out in 1887 and partially developed. In 1907, Howard van Doren Shaw laid out the Young Men's Club Addition, which platted streets along Oakwood and Atteridge.

Both subdivisions were developed land from the original settler--pioneer families, the Cole/Swanton/Atteridge farm property dating from 1837. In 1907 Shaw preserved the historic meadow the settlers used for grazing and also preserved the curving lane at the northeast corner of the park comprising Summit Avenue and Summit Place that was the track of the historic Atteridge farm road from the Western Avenue business district to the farm buildings located across Green Bay west of Woodland Road. 

In 1905 the Young Men's Club was conceived as an organization to provide recreation, social events and community promotion for young men and young tradesmen in Lake Forest. In 1907 the Young Men's Club worked with local business owners, developers and bankers to create the subdivision.

Planned with small, town-scaled lots, it was intended to consist of parcels for modestly scaled homes of locally employed skilled or trained workers, professionals, and small business owners and artisans, all to be members of the Young Men’s Club.  The neighborhood was conceived with a City-owned park –the old meadow--in its southwest corner, which makes up a large portion of the total plan. The area of the old pond on the south end of the meadow is flooded to become the West Park hockey rink every winter.

The district is significant for its well-preserved architecture and for its plan, essentially a planned community created as a residential section for the support community of Lake Forest. All of the West Park neighborhood houses adhere to development guidelines integral to the original plan. The result is a uniformity of scale, materials, simplicity, and dignity, which has persisted for a century.   A few main vernacular house styles—Colonial revival, American four square, front-gabled roof, folk Victorian, and Craftsman bungalow—characterize most of the houses, which were typically carpenter built.

A few of the homes were designed by noted architects such as Howard van Doren Shaw,  Stanley D. Anderson and Ralph Milman.  A number of prominent current architects have renovated some of the original homes.  Today the houses vary in scale from one-story ranch houses from the post World War II era to a few two and one-half story vernacular places on Summit..  The new housing that has been added to the District over the last fifty years has remained sensitive to the scale, styles and simplicity of the original neighborhood template.

The Park's club house or pavilion is of special interest in that it was designed by noted Chicago architect Irving W. Pond of the famous Pond & Pond firm. (The Pond firm also designed many of the buildings at Jane Addam's Hull-House in Chicago.) Irving Pond designed the club house in 1922 to emulate the Tudor revival style of Market Square. 

The West Neighborhood District is the fifth National Register District in Lake Forest. Others are East Lake Forest District, the Vine-Oakwood-Green Bay Road District the Green Bay Road National Register District and the Deerpath Hill Estates. Additionally many homes and properties are individually listed on the National Register, including Mellody Farm, the J.O. Armour Estate (now Lake Forest Academy); Ragdale, (Howard van Doren Shaw’s residence); the Noble Brandon Judah Manor House; the Deer Path Inn; the Robert P. Lamont house, among others.

This information about the neighborhood’s origins has come to light in the last decade through the research efforts of Shirley M. Paddock, working with local newspaper files and especially within archives she discovered in the basement of the Griffith, Grant & Lackie Realtors. Arthur H. Miller, Archivist and Librarian for Special Collections at Lake Forest College, and Paul Bergmann made significant contributions in drafting and organizing the application and Caroline Kerr photographed the properties. The application and photographs will be available soon on the Preservation Foundation's website.