What do a baron of the Telephone industry, the treasurer of Carson Pirie Scott & Co., and an internationally recognized artist have in common?

They all chose to live in this historic Evanston house!

1608 Forest, Evanston Illinois

In 1894 the residence at 1608 Forest Place was constructed for Franklin G. Beach, the general manager of the Central Union Telephone Company.

Franklin G. Beach

Mr. Beach and his wife Elizabeth were prominent members of the early Evanston social clubs. They and their two servants Miss Elizabeth and Miss Grace lived in the home until Mr. Beach's death in 1897. 

Mr. Beach saw over the construction of the first telephone station in Evanston at 612 Davis Street in 1891. By 1898 there were 554 telephones in Evanston, mostly in businesses, where the telephone became regarded as a necessity. Two years later the number of telephones installed had nearly doubled.

Before 1892, a commuter had limited options to travel between Evanston and Chicago, and most businessmen had to live in the City during the work week until the Chicago and North Shore Street Railway Company erected an electrified street railway that connected with an existing cable car system in Chicago, reducing the commute time to just 30 minutes!

Chicago City Railway cable trailer 209 in October 1938. Supposedly built around 1892, it appears to be a replica fabricated by Chicago Surface Lines (C.S.L.) in 1934 using some original parts. It is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (photo: Alfred Seibel)

Following this transportation boon, nearly 200 residences were constructed within the Lakeshore Historic District between the period of 1880 and 1899; approximately three-quarters of the residences were built in the 1890s. Most of the houses from this period are concentrated within the original Village of Evanston, north of Dempster Street.

Following Mr. Beach's death in 1897, the home was sold in 1900 to John W. Scott the treasurer of Carson Pirie Scott & Co.

John W. Scott

Louis Sullivan's 1899 design for a massive department store was known as "Schlesinger & Mayer" for a short time after its opening in 1903. It attracted shoppers with elegant ornamentation designed by Sullivan and George Elmslie.

In 1904 the building was expanded and sold to Carson Pirie Scott & Co. 

Also in 1904, the City of Evanston established its first speed limit, 8 m.p.h. Police set up speed-traps on Sheridan Road and Ridge Avenue and hid in the bushes with stopwatches.

Carson Pirie Scott entrance, 1960

A few years later, John W. Scott's brother Robert Scott, president of Carson Pirie Scott, built a home just blocks away at 144 Greenwood.

Plan of Evanston

In 1957, the home at 1608 Forest was sold to the Legg family, and the Legg family remains the longest running inhabitants of the home.

Stephan Legg inherited the house from his parents and married Kinga Olesiak in 1993. They have lived there happily ever since.

Kinga Olesiak-Legg

Kinga Olesiak-Legg was born in Wieliczka, Poland. From 1977 to 1983 Kinga studied at The School of Architecture of The Polytechnic Institute in Cracow, Poland. After graduating with an M.A. in Architecture, she worked for several architectural firms in Cracow. However, her real passion was painting. She has become an internationally recognized painter and most of her works are oil on canvas with the exception of some watercolors from earlier years. Her paintings have been exhibited in the US and abroad, and are in many private collections. The Pritzker-family-owned Bed and Breakfast homes display many of her paintings. 

Evanston has been a huge influence and many of her paintings depict the unsurpassed beauty of landscapes, bringing relaxation to the viewer. Not surprisingly, her home with a view of Lake Michigan has inspired many of her landscapes. Several of her paintings were also inspired by the Chicago Botanic Gardens, as well as by the house and gardens of Claude Monet in Giverny, France.

Importantly this house is to be sold with one of Kinga's original paintings. 

Lake Michigan Painting

Size: 36 x 24
Estimated value: $5,000
Year: 2009
Medium: Oil Painting


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