Berwyn Through The Years – More Historical Photos of Berwyn

Our previous post on historical Berwyn – 15 Historical Photos of Berwyn – was a great success and one of our most popular posts of all time. We’re bringing that theme back with our follow up that has even more pictures to help give a closer look into what Berwyn was like in its early days.

We would like to give special thanks to Kristine Dillon from the Berwyn Historical Society for their permission in using their photos. And also thanks to Douglas Deuchler for the gathering of information that accompanies some of the photos.

(Click on pictures to get a closer look.)

  • Here is what was known as Ritzma Farm at around the 1880’s. The land that is now the Cermak Plaza and the surrounding area was once a humble farm that the locals called “Oklahoma”.
  • Today part of this farmland is now J. Sterling Morton West High School.
1880-Berwyn-Farm
1907-Foursquare-Home
  • One of the first styles of homes built in Berwyn is known as the American Foursquare. These homes are known for their distinct shape and brilliant use of space.
  • In this photo we have one family standing by their beautiful home in 1907 at 3309 Wesley Ave.
  • Back when homeowners were able to own farm animals in their yard many Berwyn residents harvested their own eggs and would keep chickens, geese, and cows.
  • Back when this picture was taken eggs sold for a penny a piece and were a source of income for the family.
1910s-Chicken-Coop
1909-Depot-District
  • Here we have a 1909 postcard of Berwyn’s Depot District looking East on Windsor Ave. Postcards of this type were very commonly sold and passed around back in the early 1900’s.
  • This is the interior of Hamm Grocery which was located at 6741 Windsor Ave. In 1915, when this picture was taken, there were actually no refrigerators present at this store and products would be out in the open for customers to peruse though.
  • However customers couldn’t service themselves at Hamm Grocery during this time and had to go through store attendants to get their groceries.
1915-Hamm-Grocery
 1920-Berwyn-Womens-Club
  • This is a 1920’s postcard of the Berwyn Woman’s Club. The Berwyn Woman’s Club was a social organization that had clear goals for advancing society in Berwyn in its early days. Their primary goals included; helping destitute women, caring for neglected children, and improving the area through philanthropic work.
  • The Berwyn Woman’s Club also helped form Berwyn’s first Public Library in the home of Arthur MacNeal which in the 1900’s was just a small lending library.
  • Here is a picture from around the 1930’s of the American State Bank Building. When the stock market crashed in 1929 many banks suffered and during the Great Depression no banks were able to operate in Berwyn. After the depression however the bank was able to be put back into operation as the Berwyn National Bank building,
  • In 2000 this building was put onto the National Register for its Greek architecture and deep history.
  • In 2014 Big Hurt Brewhouse made its home in the former bank, after much restoration, as a new micro-brewery and restaurant.
1930s-Berwyn-National-Bank
1930-Berwyn-State-Bank
  • Here is the historical Berwyn State Bank building in a 1930 postcard on Windsor and Oak Park Ave. The building was built in the Art Moderne style, which was very popular in the 1930’s and is noted through its use of clean lines and moderne ornamentation.
  • Today this building still stands at this location, even though the bank has long since been closed, and was placed on the National Registry in 2000.
  • Here is the interior of Hoft Drugs, which was located at 6820 Windsor Ave, in the 1930’s.
  • Pharmacies at the time were not only known for their medicine but were also known for their sweet treats. Here we have one elegant woman showing off true 1930’s style while enjoying a milkshake.
1930s-Hoft-Drug-2
1939-Cermak-Road
  • Here is a rare shot of Cermak Road in 1939. There are many differences in the Cermak Rd of that time and Cermak that we know now.
  • One thing in particular to note is the trolley tracks that ran down the middle of the road where the median is now.
  • It’s hard to believe that MacNeal Hospital once started off in Arthur MacNeal’s house on 33rd St and Oak Park Ave. In this 1940’s postcard the hospital had recently expanded to include the middle section and new wing of the building.
  • MacNeal has continued to rapidly expand over the years and now takes up a whole block of space compared to the much more modest building pictured here.
1940s-Macneal-Hospital
1940s-White-Castle
  • This is a view from the 1940’s of the White Castle located on Harlem Ave and Ogden Ave. The building depicted here is clearly smaller than the current incarnation; however the styles are still very similar.
  • This White Castle location holds a very distinct honor in being the oldest White Castle location on Route 66.
  • Due to the large amount of Czechoslovakian and Polish residents in Berwyn and Cicero the Houby, which means mushroom in Czech, Day Parade was created as a way to celebrate the annual harvest of mushrooms.
  • Here is a photo of the Houby Day Parade on an unknown date, where what looks to be a family dressed in traditional garb, greeted onlookers on a float with the Parade’s namesake.
1950s-Houby-Parade
1960s-Czech-Society
  • Here is another reference to the importance of Berwyn’s Slovak population. The building that now hosts the Berwyn Public Library once hosted the Czechoslovakian Society of America Fraternal Life  – an insurance and social organization.
  • This artist rendition of the building was drawn in 1960. The Czechoslovakian Society of America moved in 1995 and the Berwyn Public Library moved into its new spacious location right afterwards in 1996.
  • Due to the ever growing number of residents in the area in the 1950’s it was finally time for Berwyn to have its very own high school. Before this Berwyn’s teenagers had to travel all the way to Austin Ave to attend Morton East High School. Morton West was opened in 1958.
  • Several years later in 1965, on the first day of school, these students were caught in a candid moment showcasing trendy 1960’s fashion and hairstyles.
1965-Morton-West
 1992-Hollywood-Movies
  • This picture was taken in 1992 and shows the 1800 block of East Ave  while filming is taking place for the movie Prelude to a Kiss.
  • The actress that we can see holding a bag is none other than Kathy Bates; the renowned Hollywood actress that has won countless awards for her brilliance in acting.
  • Many studios have chosen Berwyn over the years as a great location to shoot outdoor scenes in because of the beauty of our houses and town. For a more complete look into that subject look here.

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