475 Maple

Stories and Structures: Downtown Winnetka and Beyond

475 Maple

Winnetka, Illinois 60093, United States

Created By: Winnetka Historical Society


The original portion of the vernacular Victorian at 475 Maple was built c. 1874. While the architect is unknown, we do know that the house was built for early Winnetka resident Charles Octavius Fox Sedgwick.

Sedgwick was born in England in 1825 to an English father and English/Jamaican mother. In 1869, Sedgwick immigrated to the US and started working as a bookkeeper for the Chicago and North Western Railroad. He eventually became the railroad company’s chief accountant.

When the Sedgwick moved to Winnetka in the early 1870s, he was, according to sources, “accepted as the best educated man in town.” Education was clearly a passion of Sedgwick’s and within a few years of moving to Winnetka, he started inviting a group of Winnetkans to meet at his home to exchange reading materials and discuss books.

The meetings grew popular over time as more and more residents attended and added books and articles to the group’s circulation. The unofficial club was eventually organized into the Winnetka Reading and Social Club.

Since they met at Sedgwick’s home, many of the club’s books were stored at 475 Maple until the village’s first public library was organized in an old schoolhouse on Elm and Walnut in 1885. As such, this house could be considered Winnetka’s first unofficial library, and is certainly the place that served as the impetus for the eventual formation of the public library we have today.

While Sedgwick died in 1902, he clearly left his mark on the village – both as a founder of the first unofficial library and as the first owner of this historic house.

This house was also once notable as the home of the oldest remaining water pump in the village. Research indicates that the water pump was likely installed in the 1870s when the house was first constructed. The pump was still in its original location in the 1970s, but since the large addition was added to the south side of the house, it’s unlikely that the water pump remains in its original location today.

While the pump may be gone and the house has clearly been renovated and added to over time, the historic character of the original portion of the house still stands, and remains an important part of the village’s history.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Stories and Structures: Downtown Winnetka and Beyond


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