Residents of Hinsdale's 'Elegant Era'
Last updated 3/1/2023 at 4:27pm | View PDF
Although some current residents might beg to differ, the village's "Elegant Era" took place in the early days of the village, from the 1870s to 1890s.
At least that's the conclusion of Hugh Dugan, author of "Village on the County Line." And while he makes a point of noting that 13 pages of "The Elegant Era" chapter are designed to spotlight historic Hinsdale homes, it is his descriptions of the homeowners, along with their occupations and pastimes, that are most entertaining to read, as illustrated by these examples:
"Elisha Gray had invented a telephone, but was the loser in a patent contest with Alexander Graham Bell. Nevertheless, telephones had to be made, so Gray and Barton began making them. Mr. (Enos) Barton had moved to Hinsdale, and while living here decided on the site for his plant on Cicero Avenue, on the western edge of Chicago, which later became known as the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Co. Most of the world's telephone instruments have been made there. ... Many of the old-timers recall (Barton's) Sedgeley House Tally-ho and the farm's fine cattle and sheep.
"William Evernden, 212 S. Washington St. According to one source, 'the last of the deer hunts was still in the future when Bill Evernden decided to settle here' after working for a while for the County's Road Surveyor. He operated one of the first drug stores and became a friend and counselor of many a village youth.
"William P. Gates was president of the American Terra Cotta Co. He built and lived in the terra cotta house at the southwest corner of Walnut and Lincoln. There were five or six Gates children.
"Dr. John B. Hench, Hinsdale's widely beloved family physician, arrived here before 1890 and served in the village for 30 odd years. His 'sterling traits of character made him well-liked as a citizen.' ... Mrs. John B. Hench still resides at the old homestead at 118 S. Lincoln.
"William S. Hinckley. Mr. and Mrs. Hinckley, with their son William and daughter Bessie, came here from Galesburg, Illinois, in 1880. One of their early dwellings was on the site of the late Geo. H. Bell's home at Park and Third. Miss Bessie Hinckley, who now resides at King-Bruwaert House, taught at the Garfield School in the late nineties and can name many middle-aged citizens as having been among her students.
"Benjamin F. Jones. His house, which formerly stood at Garfield and Second, was later moved to 29 S. Park. Mr. Jones was a prisoner of the Confederates at Andersonville during the Civil War. 'Jones hill' (the South Garfield Street hill) was a favorite for coasting in the winter, a pastime that is now hindered by the density of traffic. Following Benjamin ones, the H.W. Cowles family lived here.
"L.C. Newell erected the house at 526 N. Washington in 1894. He and A.H. Fulton and a few other neighbors began playing golf on a crude homemade course west of Burns field in that year. This group was the nucleus of the Hinsdale Golf Club.
"D.L. Perry, 138 E. Maple. He was village president in 1882 and a signer of the petition for incorporation. ... The Perrys were gracious hosts to various newcomers who temporarily resided with them while looking for homes of their own."