“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
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
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
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