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Historic home now belongs to the ages

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By Kathy Headley

Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor

6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778

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A grainy glimpse at the home at 3703 W. 63rd Place, circa 1909. Pictured are (from left) Myrtle Kemp as a child, her brother Newton, Flora Turney, Frances King (holding Elizabeth King, later a much loved librarian at the Chicago Lawn Branch Library). –Photo courtesy of Margaret Kemp

A building starts out as a collection of wood or bricks. As time goes on, some might be cherished for their aesthetic value, some for their historic value, some for the memories held inside. We have great vintage homes here that have experienced all three.

Last week, we lost one at the age of 134. It succumbed to fire and was subsequently torn down. In its heyday, it sat proudly on the southwest corner of 63rd Place and Lawndale. Surrounded by a 6500 square-foot lot, it had one of those wonderful, big sprawling front porches that invited neighbors to stop by, keeping it bustling with neighborhood activity through decades.

This was one of the first houses built by John Eberhart when he christened his new subdivision Chicago Lawn. At that time, this was considered the west end of Chicago Lawn.

I contacted Margaret Kemp, who grew up in the house and this is what she told me: “The house was built in 1888, but I don’t think anyone lived in it until my grandparents, William and Flora Turney (my mother’s parents) bought it in 1904 from John Eberhardt. My grandparents lived there until they died, and my mother inherited the house.

“My parents, Myrtle and Leonard, married in 1939 and he moved in,” she continued. “My mother lived her whole life there and was actually born in one of the upstairs bedrooms in 1905. When my mother died in 1997, my brother and I inherited it. I sold him my half. He passed away last year. The house had been lived in by someone in our family for 117 years.”

Margaret’s mom, Myrtle Turney Kemp, who died in the same house on Lawndale in which she was born, was a predecessor of today’s cooking experts we see on television. She traveled the country, demonstrating cooking techniques before she began raising a family. She was a founding member of the Chicago Lawn Historical Society and was affiliated with many local organizations here. She is featured on page 55 in our Legendary Locals of Chicago Lawn and West Lawn book.

This is the final week to submit your entry for a CEGA award (Chicago Excellence in Gardening). The deadline is July 1. Categories include ornamental, vegetable, container and more. Entries can be residential or from churches, schools and businesses. Go to chicagogardeningawards.org for more information and to submit your entry.

kathyheadley2021

Kathy Headley

This weekend is the 39th Annual Senior Amateur Golf Championship at Marquette Park. Running from 7 a.m. Saturday, June 25 to 3 p.m. Sunday June 26, the contest includes 18 holes of stroke play each day and features prizes, tee gifts and a daily luncheon. I can’t say if there will be any openings left by the time you read this, but go to marquettepartk.cpdgolf.com to check or call the clubhouse at (773) 526-5040.

Then after playing or watching the golf championship on Sunday, why not pop over to the Monarca Event Room, 3300 W. 63rd St., for Tasting Summer? The event for adults 21 and up runs from 2 to 8 p.m. and will feature a live DJ, vendors, drinks and food. A $10 tasting ticket includes tasting and a drink or appetizer. For $5 off the ticket prices, use promo code Monarca at eventbrite.com/e/tasting-summer-tickets-350777614287?aff=eand. Any questions, call (773) 701-5000.

The Chicago Lawn Branch Library, 6120 S. Kedzie, will be showing the 2022 Disney Pixar film Turning Red this Saturday, June 25 at 2:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, June 29, Circus Acts Trunk Show with CircEsteem comes to the library from 11 a.m. to noon. It features performers ages 10-17 with acts including juggling, spinning poi, tumbling and more. Kids will have an opportunity to learn from the performers in a free workshop after the performance. Register by 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 28. For more information, call the library at (312) 747-0639.

Now back to 1992. When we last visited, we were heading west on 59th Street to Tony DiNolfo’s grocery store. Dawn F. was the first to identify the store as Sparkle Food Center. After Tony opened the Sparkle Plaza, Dawn worked at the Sara Lee outlet store. She reminded me of the July 4th celebrations Tony would have in the parking lot.

Calling right behind Dawn was Pat P., who also shopped at Sparkle. She got to know Tony pretty well as his wife, Mary, was a relative. She tells us Tony was strait-laced but he liked to play the harmonica and always had a smile on his face when he did. She says the couple lived for a long time in St. Denis Parish and that they built the 7-Eleven across from Sparkle.

For our last week visiting 1992, let’s go over to 3927 W. 63rd St. and pick up a few items. It used to be R & S Liquor Store, as I remember, but 30 years ago it was more of a discount variety store, a predecessor to the dollar store of today. Where do you suppose we are going?

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