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Neighbors seek new historic district in Geneva

20 properties included in application

GENEVA – Five people filed an application to create the South Geneva Historic District, nominating 20 properties on the south side of Geneva, city records show.

The properties in the proposed historic district are: 814 Batavia Ave.; 398 Elizabeth Place; 316 Elizabeth Place; 715 Shade Ave.; 707 Shady Ave.; 322 Cheever Ave.; 740 Shady Ave.; 734 Shady Ave.; 716 Shady Ave.; 418 Easton Ave.; 425 Easton Ave.; 464 Easton Ave.; 809 Batavia Ave.; 825 Batavia Ave.; 949 Batavia Ave.; 945 Batavia Ave.; 944 Batavia Ave.; 934 Batavia Ave.; 1010 Hawthorne Lane; and 517 Peck Road.

The application is currently under review by city staff, spokesman Kevin Stahr said.

“The city is going through the application and making sure that everything has been filed appropriately,” Stahr said. “The next step will be a hearing before the Historic Preservation Commission, but not until 2019.”

After the commission makes a recommendation, the application will go to the City Council for final action, Stahr said.

The city’s website will inform the public about the process and when hearing and meeting dates will be scheduled.

One of the applicants, Gillian McNamara, of 418 Easton Ave., said she and others were seeking historic designation as a way to maintain the beauty of their neighborhood.

“We love our homes,” McNamara said. “We love our neighborhood and it was something we decided to do … to keep it that way.”

The application includes photographs of the houses in the proposed historic district, historic images of the buildings, a listing of all buildings within the nominated district as significant, contributing or non-contributing, as well as histories of the nominated homes.

A property is significant if architectural or historical importance based on an association with significant persons, according to the city's historic preservation ordinance.

A contributing property means that its associated improvements support the overall character and significance of a district, the ordinance states.

McNamara’s house, the Perry Dryden House II, is a Georgian Revival, and is considered a contributing property, built in 1925 by the Wilson brothers.

The Wilson brothers were Geneva’s “most revered contractors and builders,” who built the house for Perry Dryden, “a key leader and significant member of our community from 1925 until his death in 1958,” according to the application.

Perry Dryden was an alderman in the 2nd Ward for 25 years.

A developer, Dryden built the Meadows subdivision, donated land that later became Dryden Park and helped establish the Geneva Park District in 1950.

His wife, Katharine Dryden, was the clothing buyer for The Little Traveler in 1940 and worked there for 20 years, according to the application.

The George Atherton House, owned by Thomas and Felice Jones, is also a contributing property, at 740 Shady Ave., built in 1925 also by the Wilson brothers.

With a unique gable front L-plan, the house was built for Atherton, a salesman for the American Radiator Company, in Chicago, according to the application.

Felice Jones said she wants the historic district to help preserve their neighborhood.

“It is a wonderful part of the heritage of Geneva,” Felice Jones said. “Hopefully, we’ll be going in that direction with some movement from the neighbors who have gotten together.”

The house at 734 Shady Ave., built in 1857, is owned by 5th Ward Alderman Robert Swanson and his wife Mary.

Called the Edwin Judson house, the Greek Revival and Italianate design was built for Edwin Judson, “Chicago’s first pioneer dentist,” according to a 911 publication “Pioneer Dentists of Chicago,” according to the application.

"The way my wife and I feel about it, our house should be protected as a historic home in Geneva," Swanson said of their support of creating a new historic district.

Most owners support the designation, documents show.

The city’s last local historic district was designated in 1987, encompassing the Central Geneva Historic District and the North Geneva Historic District, Stahr stated in an email.

The complete application is available online at

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