Chesterton Tribune

Town's first subdivision topic for Historical Society

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“Chesterton’s first subdivision” is how Nancy Vaillancourt described Morgan Park when she presented “That Old House, Part II” for the Duneland Historical Society on October 16.

Using slides of old pictures and recent slides taken by Hugh Hopkins she took the members and guests on a trip through Morgan Park, the north side of Chesterton and the area around 15th street and Porter Ave.

Part I of “That Old House” was presented in April, 2003 and featured houses west of Calumet Road and South of Broadway, many of them built in the 1800s. Morgan Park was platted in June of 1907 by the Chesterton Realty Company whose officers were A J. Bowser, E. L. Morgan, Charles Jeffrey, F. H. Wilson and L. W. Landman. All of those names are used for streets in the subdivision along with Indiana, Porter and Roosevelt. 250 lots were platted and at least two lots were needed to build a house.

East Morgan Ave. was widened and graded and a new bridge was built across Coffee Creek. Schwedler maple trees were planted along the streets and in October, 1907 the subdivision was annexed to Chesterton.

Vaillancourt made note of the mix of architecture in the Morgan Park homes and the fact that some were built with barns such as the August Harbrecht home at 324 East Morgan which was occupied in October of 1907.

Homes were constructed at a fast pace with many well known citizens choosing the new subdivision. Some of them were Arthur O.J. Krieger, Claus Issacson, Charles Nickel, J. Oliver Johnson, Irene Krieger, Ed Hyde and John Yalgeski.

Banker Ed Morgan built his large brick home at Wilson and Morgan in 1915. Across Wilson Street from Morgan’s home is another brick home which was built by H. F. Carlson, prominent Swedish grocer in 1916.

Carlson’s house was later the home of the Earnkirk School for Boys. The school was operated by Col. Arthur Earnshaw and moved to Morgan Park in 1936 after a fire at its first location on Indian Boundary Road. City boys were boarded at the house and attended local schools.

On the north side of Chesterton are several houses older than those in Morgan Park. Vaillancourt thinks that the oldest house in town still on its original property is at 302 Wabash. It was built by an Irish family named Connell who came here in 1849 and it was sold to Peter Moroney in 1892.

Many Irish immigrants lived on the north side and worked for the railroad. Names such as Griffin, Moynahan, Harrington, Sheehan, O’Connell and O’Connor are found in the records. The first building for St. Patrick Church was on the north side.

Another very early house at 306 North Calumet Road probably dates to the 1850s. At one time it was occupied by Thaddeus Whitlock who became the station agent for the railroad and was prominent in the community until his death in 1941 at 102.

A later wave of settlers to that part of town were from Poland and they came to work in the factories and brickyards. Most of the north side was platted into 106 lots in 1884.

The slides included pictures of homes on Wabash, North Calumet, Grant, Michigan and Woodlawn. Because there was a mill on Coffee Creek, Vaillancourt speculates that the house at 102 Woodlawn was the miller’s house.

On Michigan Ave. just west of Calumet Road there are two houses which were built by C. O., Hillstrom to house employees of the organ factory. They are exactly like the Hillstrom houses along 4th St. north of Porter Ave.

The third neighborhood visited is near the intersection of 15th St. and Porter Ave. The first slide from this area was of the brick house west of 15th St. on Porter Ave. which was originally Oscar Peterson’s farmhouse.

The Porter Land Company developed the land between 5th Street and 23rd Street which became known at the Boom. One of the company’s projects was The Carlsbad Artesian Mineral Springs which was heavily advertised starting in 1899.

A hotel was planned and nine houses were built along 15th Street to house the people who were expected to come for the mineral water at the springs. The water from the springs was analyzed and there were great hopes for Carlsbad Mineral Springs but not much came of it.

A brick building at the corner which had been built for the Chesterton Tribune by Arthur Bowser was included in the project. It was used for a time as a restaurant, later a bunkhouse for railroad workers and finally torn down.

The 15th Street houses were all built from the same plans except that some were reversed. They were eventually sold to private individuals. The slides showed the remodeling, additions, decorating and landscaping which today give each house its own personality.

A total of 66 slides were shown in this program and more information about some of the houses shown was shared by members of the audience. Anyone with more old house history to contribute may call Nancy Vaillancourt at 926-3091.


Posted 10/24/2003