Carpet design

Looking at Evanston: Design Thoughts | The cultural and commercial monuments of Evanston

When we think of landmarks, we usually think of historically or architecturally significant buildings. Many of the 150 places mentioned in Design Evanston’s book Evanston: 150 years 150 places fall into these categories. A few don’t. Institutions can be culturally significant to a community without occupying a significant building or location. Long-standing trade or service providers can also become a unifying element of a neighborhood or a shared memory of a city. Everyone in Evanston has personal lists of landmarks, places that are important in their lives. Here we recognize a few of the many places that come to mind as part of our collective perception and history of Evanston.

Amazinggrace, Chicago Avenue and Main Street

Amazingrace began as a cafe in Northwestern University’s Scott Hall in 1971 and immediately became a music hotspot. The collective has hosted the likes of the Grateful Dead, John Prine, Keith Jarrett, Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner and neighboring Evanston resident Steve Goodman (pictured). In 1974 a loyal group of “Gracers” started a new Amazingrace at The Main in South Evanston.

Amazingrace became an icon of youth culture at the time and closed after its short but vibrant life in 1978. The original building was demolished and replaced in 2016 with a nine-story mixed-use development.

Steve Goodman in an Amazingrace performance. (Photo by Charles Seton)

Bookman’s Alley, 1721 Sherman Ave. (back)

Roger Carlson opened Bookman’s Alley in 1980. The store had 40,000 volumes and occupied a large one-story hangar located off the driveway connecting Sherman and Benson avenues. The unique vibe of the shop came not only from its huge selection of second-hand books, but from its cozy groupings of rugs, antique furniture and lamps, and the maps, paintings and posters hanging on the few walls not covered with books. . Carlson closed Bookman’s Alley in 2013, but the unique space continues today as Bookends & Beginnings under the ownership of Nina Barrett.

Chandler’s, 630 Davis Street.

Although Chandler’s occupies a page in the Evanston: 150 book as an important building, it is also remembered by many as a cultural and commercial landmark. In an October 2021 essay in Evanston’s Roundtable, Kris Hartzell and Jenny Thompson say Chandler’s had been in business for a century – from 1895 until it closed in 1995. In the 1940s, Jared Johnson, chairman of the board of administration of Chandler, designed the Chandler’s Assignment Book. The book featured a calendar that mirrored the school year. “The notebook became a much-loved mainstay with students and was still in print after the store closed.”

The Chandler Building in downtown Evanston, seen in June 2013. (Photo by Jack Weiss)

Crystal Table Water, 2318 Ridge Ave.

This bottled water company began in 1896 when three natural springs were discovered in the backyard of this house built in 1887. Crystal table water was bottled on site and sold on the North Shore for over 70 years old. In his 2021 e-book, Frogtown: The Story of the North Ridge, Kris Hartzell reports: “Remaining company buildings are still visible in the driveway behind the house. At one time there was a large bottling plant roughly where Colfax now crosses the property. »

Crystal Table Water came from a spring in the backyard of this home at 2318 Ridge Ave. (Picture via Google Maps)

Evanston Sanitarium and Training School, 1916-1918 Asbury Ave.

Dr. Isabella Garnett, a member of one of Evanston’s first African-American families, founded the Evanston Sanitarium and Training School in 1914 to care for the growing African-American community with her husband, Dr Arthur Butler. Prior to this, since neither Evanston Hospital nor St. Francis Hospital admitted African Americans, patients had to travel south or west to Chicago for treatment. In 1930, Evanston Community Hospital replaced the sanatorium in a brick house at 2026 Brown Ave. Evanston’s two all-white hospitals began admitting African American patients in the 1950s. The community hospital, which had expanded in 1952, closed in 1980.

Fanny’s Restaurant, 1601 Simpson Street.

Fanny’s Restaurant, opened in 1946, was a notable restaurant in Evanston cited by Chicago Magazine as one of the Chicago area’s top 40 restaurants. Patrons included the Marshall Field family. The dressing and meat sauce gained international acclaim and are still available today. The restaurant closed in 1987 due to the health of its founder, Fanny Lazzar. The building was converted to lofts in 2005. In 2014, Evanston’s caterer Feast & Imbibe opened the former food court. Feast & Imbibe has been named one of the top 10 wedding caterers in the Chicago area.

Fanny Lazzar serves customers at Fanny’s, 1601 Simpson St., in 1962. (Chicago Sun-Times file photo courtesy of Jim Craig)

Lemoi Ace Hardware, 1008 Davis St.

Lemoi originated as a sheet metal repair shop (Peterson-Lemoi) in 1894 on the site that became Chandler’s Building. Peter Lemoi wanted a more traditional retail operation and started Lemoi Hardware, Evanston’s oldest retail business still in operation, in 1895. Today, under the leadership of fourth-generation president Ralph Lemoi- Dupuis, Lemoi is booming. Formerly a True Value co-op, Lemoi Hardware became an Ace co-op in the 1950s. Scott Evans is the current manager. Ralph’s great-grandfather, Peter, and grandfather, Ralph, are pictured in this photo.

Peter and Ralph Lemoi, circa 1895. (Photo courtesy Ralph Lemoi-Dupuis)

The Toy Builders, 805 Greenwood St.

In the early 1910s, Charles Pajeau designed the first Tinkertoy set in his garage after seeing children playing with crayons, sticks and empty spools of thread. The business expanded to stores at 805 Greenwood St. and later moved to a four-story factory at 2012 Ridge Ave. Pajeau and his partner, Robert Pettit, introduced the new toy at the 1914 American Toy Fair and a year later over a million sets. have been sold. In 1952, when Pajeau died, sales of Tinkertoy sets were estimated at 2.8 million and employment at the Evanston factory stood at 100. After a series of sales, all operations were transferred out of Evanston in 1973. The brand is now owned by Hasbro.

A vintage TinkerToy set; the toy started in Evanston. (Photo by Flickr)

This essay expands on the content that appears in Evanston: 150 years 150 places, 2015.

Design Evanston’s “Eye on Evanston” articles focus on Evanston’s design history and make the case for good design. To visit to learn more about the organization.