From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier – February 19th, 2015
For as long as anyone can remember, the third Saturday in March has been a very special day for the residents of Ridge Street.
For years, droves of cars would line both sides of the street for blocks, many of them sporting red, white and blue bumper stickers. The partygoers making their way from their cars to 305 Ridge, the epicenter of the celebration, would create a moving, flowing banner of red, white and blue.
No, it wasn’t a Fourth of July party in March — although to many Chicagoans, the day inspired similar feelings of patriotism and pride. This was the party at Ann Schenck’s house for the first day of Cubs baseball season.
These were legendary parties that any Cubs fan (or friend of the Schencks) wouldn’t dare miss. With up to 100 people attending, an occasional Sox fan would pop through the door just to give comfort to Ann’s husband, Peter. Peter, who, sadly, passed away in 2005, always sported the black and white south-side colors, and while the couple agreed on many things, Chicago baseball was not one of them! They were a house divided — a “mixed marriage,” as Ann likes to say.
I recently had a chance to talk to Ann, and hers is a fascinating history. A lifelong devoted fan (or f-a-n-a-t-i-c), Ann has spent her last 30 winters at spring training camp following the Cubs. The memorabilia and stories she has collected over the years could fill a museum … and the home at 305 Ridge might just count as one.
It wasn’t always such a renowned house of fun, though. Until recently, there have only been four families that have owned it. Originally built in 1887 by the Gregory Brothers, who also built several other homes throughout Clarendon Hills, it was later owned by the Carrs. The Tillsens bought it next and raised a large family. They sold it to the Grishams, who were only there for one year before selling it to the Schenks in 1978 for a whopping $115,000.
Clarendon Hills was a much different place when Ann and Peter purchased the home. Back then there were only a few homes available in town! This particular house was overgrown with trees and shrubbery at the time, and what’s more, it was just too tight for what they were used to. It was originally a smallish, two-bedroom, one-bath residence. The attic area was built out in the 1940s to accommodate upstairs bedrooms, and the Tillsons put in the much-needed front staircase leading to the second floor. Before that, the only staircase was on the outside of the house!
However, since Ann grew up in Clarendon Hills, location was a primary driving force, and this house fit that bill perfectly. She drew her architectural ideas for an addition on the back side of a napkin and shared it with both her husband and their realtor at the time, Diane (Robertson) Cochran. With her ideas on paper, she boldly stated, “We’re going to buy this home.” Two additions later, she had the space she always wanted.
After putting so much care into it, it’s no surprise that Ann wanted her home to survive the teardown phenomenon. But some time ago, Ann and a neighbor bought the home between them, tore it down and split the lot in two. This created a rare, 105-foot frontage, which was very desirable for anyone wanting to build.
Recently, I sensed that Ann was OK with the home coming down and a new chapter for the “Cubs” house. We worked together to sell the home, and as of a week ago, a new family and a new history will be played out in the space that first caught her eye: that wonderful location at 305 Ridge.
As for the Cubs memorabilia, there are many happy friends and family displaying it proudly in their homes. And of course, the happy memories of the Cubs parties at 305 Ridge will forever remain in their hearts.
Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around Clarendon Hills. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting Clarendon Hills residents and even a little about Clarendon Hills history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry’s office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com