When leaving Chicago and driving north along the lake, the road will curve sharply to the right, and you will cross into Evanston. The buildings melt away; on your left is a cemetery and, on your right, as far as you can see, is Lake Michigan and the sky.
Let me introduce you to the beginning of Sheridan Road. This may be the most beautiful road in all of Evanston. Its 3-mile route will wind you around the cemetery, past beaches, through parks, and along residential streets. All along your way, there will be architecture to see, varied and fascinating. You will find examples of famous architects and architectural styles: Gothic, Prairie School, Tutor Revival Home, Dutch Renaissance Revival, Modern, and French Eclectic.
In this article, I have listed nine architectural sites on Sheridan Road, starting with the Calvary Cemetery on that southern entrance into Evanston, and ending 3 miles later at the northern tip of the city, on the other side of lovely Northwestern University.
If you decide to walk, make sure you wear your most comfortable shoes. A bicycle ride will probably provide you with the best visuals and pacing. A car ride will allow you to comfortably cover the whole route in the most efficient time, with frequent stops and sightseeing speeds. In all cases, bring your refreshments; there are no coffee shops or restaurants on Sheridan Road. It is simply atmosphere, architecture, and nature.
301 Chicago Avenue, Evanston
Architect and designer: James Egan
Located on the border between Chicago and Evanston, this long, narrow cemetery stretches between Chicago Avenue and Sheridan Road. Calvary is the oldest cemetery established by the Archdiocese of Chicago, and it has a unique style which is reflected in its architecture, its décor, and its layout.
The west entrance of Calvary is beneath a large stone gate with three arches. A Gothic-style triangle can be found in the center arch. Designed by James Egan (who is buried in Calvary), this represents the Greek letters Alpha and Omega, which are Catholic symbols of God. In Calvary, there are many religious motifs, such as crosses, statues of saints, and stained-glass windows. An interesting feature is the distinctive headstones, varying in shape and size, shaped like tree trunks, tall trees, and stumps. Many of the stones reflect the personal tastes and occupations of the deceased.
Harold R. White House
741 Sheridan Road, Evanston
Architect: John S. van Bergen
John S. van Bergen, the architect of the Harold R. White House, was born in Oak Park and was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, the founder of the Prairie School of architecture. This house displays the low horizontal eaves, the wood trim, the corner windows, the stucco exterior, and low roofline that are all hallmarks of the Prairie style of design.
Fred E. House
1218 Sheridan Road, Evanston
Architect: Ernest Mayo
The Fred E. House, built in 1901, is a Tutor Revival Home and was built by Ernest Maya. Born in England, Mayo worked as an architect in Chicago all his life. Best known for his residential work, Mayo also designed buildings for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, and he designed the building which houses the Woman’s Club of Evanston, which is well known to Evanston residents. The Fred E. House residence was once owned by Benjamin F. Crawford, the president of the National Biscuit Co., later known as Nabisco.
Levere Memorial Temple
1859 Sheridan Road, Evanston IL
The Levere Memorial Temple is a gothic-style building that was built in 1929-1930 and served as a war memorial as well as an administrative facility for the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Foundation, Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon Financial & Housing Corporation.
Alice Millar Chapel
1870 Sheridan Rd, Evanston
The Alice Millar Chapel is a beautiful blend of styles. The exterior of the building is a variation of Gothic architecture, and the interior is modeled in a modern style. Curved walls, magnificent stained glass, an Aeolian Skinner organ, a unique chancel window, and a 151-foot spire are among the features that make this Chapel worth the visit.
Northwestern University, Evanston
2253 Sheridan Road
Architect: Alfred Hoyt Granger
The Chicago architectural firm Granger constructed this house in 1914. It is classified as Dutch Renaissance Revival architecture. It displays a two-story, arched brick window, a polygonal stair and pitched gable towers, and patterned brickwork. It has a lovely slate, side-gabled roof to complete the perfection of the building.
The Harley Lyman Clarke Mansion
2603 Sheridan Road, Evanston
Architect: Richard Powers
The Harley Clarke Mansion and its coach house were built in 1927 in a French Eclectic style. The mansion won a design award in 1928 from the Evanston Art Commission. In 1982, it was declared an Evanston landmark. Inside the mansion, views of the lake are accessible from all the rooms throughout the house and in two directions, providing a full view of Lake Michigan from the front door. Over the years, the Harley Clarke Mansion has had many identities, including a center for the arts, a private family residence, and headquarters for a fraternity. To this day, it remains beautiful and intriguing.
Grosse Point Lighthouse
2601 Sheridan Road
In 1873, the Grosse Point Lighthouse was built. Its purpose was to help ships find their way into the port of Chicago. Because of Lake Michigan’s strong winds, violent rainstorms, and dense fog, the Lighthouse proved a haven and a lifesaver. The Lighthouse was taken out of commission in 1935. Since then, it has been restored by the Evanston Historical Society. The Lighthouse also offers a park and a nature center.
Charles Deering House
2655 Sheridan Road
Architect: Daniel Burnham
Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846 –1912) lived and worked in Evanston and was one of the most influential architects and city planners of his time. In 1895, Burnham built the Charles Deering House, which was partially razed in 1962. The barn remains standing today and is in use as a private residence.