Created By: LFPF
Walking tour created by Lake Forest Preservation Foundation
The West Park neighborhood’s dramatic history ties it to the earliest pioneer days locally, to the community’s evolution as an estate district, and to the development of Market Square, the first planned town center created for motor vehicles. Over a century after its creation in 1907, the park and neighborhood have developed much as laid out by architect and planner Howard Van Doren Shaw. The land from Westminster north to Atteridge Road was part of a pioneer cluster of farms settled in 1837 by an extended family of Methodists from Cork, Ireland—Coles, Swantons and Atteridges.
Architect Shaw developed the farms west of Green Bay Road as estates from 1907 to 1916 and then working with estate owners locally developed a park and neighborhood for young men and their families working in local businesses and professions serving the country places of the Onwentsia Club members. The first southern part was laid out prior to 1907, from Westminster north into the current parkland and including Sunset Place. Then in 1907 a group of Chicagoans active in Onwentsia and led by architect Shaw, John V. Farwell, Jr., and local developer John Griffith conceived of a plan to move quickly to secure the last open land along Green Bay Road for this park and the neighborhood. This area includes Woodland Road, the north section of Summit Avenue, the north section of Oakwood Avenue, and Atteridge Road. The lots were sold at auction in late July 1907 and could only be bought by members of the Young Men’s Club. The lots were to be paid off in five years. The Young Men’s Club clubhouse was projected on Shaw’s plan to be built on the park south of Woodland Road.
The early lot owners and soon residents of the neighborhood mostly were working locally in small businesses or in professions or public service. Descendants, who today live in the neighborhood, represent many of these. Today the neighborhood remains true to the scale and styles envisioned by planner Shaw and his reform era founders and partners. Though some of the houses have been changed and some of the lots developed later than the rest, the neighborhood overall stands as a testament to the foresight, practicality, and generosity of this City. Beautiful era group of estate community leaders on one hand and newly dedicated local residents on the other hand.