MICHIGAN CITY, IN
Gerber's Beaux Arts Michigan City station on 11th Street awaits restoration after decades of neglect. The tracks in the foreground belong to NICTD and carry trains of the South Shore down the street just like they did in the 1920s. This view dates from 2014.
According to the April 2, 2017 Times of Northwest Indiana the city of Michigan City purchased this station with plans to preserve at least the historic Beaux Arts facade. The purchase price of $200,000 is coincidentally the exact amount it cost to build the station when it was new.
HIGHLAND PARK-RAVINIA & BRIERGATE
The Ravinia station was located two miles south of downtown Highland Park. This station was north of the better know Ravinia Park station of the interurban which predated Gerber's tenure with the Insull interurbans.
And across town in Highland Park was the other station...Briergate.
One of the styles that Gerber is best-known for is "Insull Spanish," a Mission Revival look popularized earlier in the Southwest which he employed for six new stations along the North Shore Line's "Skokie Valley Line" in 1926. This new, high-speed line was built by the North Shore Line to bypass the congested suburbs to the east along the original "Shore Line" between Chicago and Milwaukee. A contest was held by the North Shore Line where the public was invited to name these new depots. These charming buildings held the waiting room and ticket office in front with a residence for the station agent and his or her family in back.
Only the Briergate stations still stands today in suburban Highland Park of the original "Insull Spanish" designs on the Skokie Valley line. A restored twin stands in Beverly Shores, IN, along the South Shore Line.
BEVERLY SHORES, IN
Beverly Shores, IN, station as shown following restoration work the following month by NICTD. Note the South Shore Line tracks in the foreground along with the classic neon roof sign. June, 1998.
Beverly Shores, IN, station prior to restoration work. August, 1997.
In 1928 sister interurban to the North Shore Line, the Chicago, South Shore, and South Bend ("South Shore Line") added two stations in Indiana using Gerber's same Insull Spanish design. Only the station at Beverly Shores remains. The building is owned by NICTD while the land actually belongs to the Northern Indiana Public Service Company, or NIPSCO-yet another Insull property at one time. The residence was to the left (north) in the picture above, while the waiting room and ticket window were on the right, next to the platform and track. This building was the residence of South Shore Line station agent Nellie Warren and her husband AJ who worked for the South Shore Line as a motorman.
In local newspaper articles sent by Beverly Shores historian Carl Reed, Gerber's Beverly Shores gem reopened to the public on July 18, 1998, after renovation expenses of approximately a half million dollars by NICTD. On hand for the grand re-opening were US Representative Pete Visclosky, County Commissioner Jim Biggs, NICTD Marketing Manager John Parsons, along with NIPSCO and Beverly Shores representatives. NIPSCO is renewing its original lease on the building to NICTD at the rate of $10 per year! Architect Gerber received mention in The Beacher magazine in extensive articles with pictures covering the happy event. Gerber also received mention in the Michigan City News-Dispatch in relation to this event. The restored station is now used as offices, an art gallery with work from local artists, and a history museum.
VILLA PARK, IL
This stunning station today serves as the home of the Villa Park Historical Society Museum and is open to the public. Gerber designed this building for yet another Insull interurban, the Chicago, Aurora, and Elgin. The CA&E ran from Chicago west through Villa Park to Wheaton, where it forked into branches fanning out toward its namesake cities. Passenger service ended in 1958, a victim of the Eisenhower Expressway, with the remaining freight operations gone a year later. This English Tudor design from 1929 is similar to Gerber's very early work for the Northwestern Elevated Railroad, a predecessor of today's Chicago Transit Authority and the "L," especially his Tudor station at Kimball on the Ravenswood Line and the Uptown station at Wilson and Broadway before it was replaced by another Gerber, Beaux Arts design.
SKOKIE, IL-DEMPSTER STREET STATION
Dempster St. Station Moved and Saved!. Click here to see Graham Garfield's L Website for Updates, Photos
A new section of this website also contains updated photos of the restored station and canopy across the parking lot.
This view looks north along the former North Shore Line tracks in 1997 now used by the CTA's "Skokie Swift" rapid transit line or as it is now called, the Yellow Line. Gerber's station is shown to the right in run-down condition after it was vacated and prior to it being moved and restored.
At a March 19, 2001, board meeting the Village of Skokie mayor and trustees voted overwhelmingly to approve a plan by a local developer to move and restore the historic Dempster Street station. The developer is the Taxman Corporation which restored the 4000 square foot Dempster Street station after moving it across the parking lot 135 feet to the east. Architect for the project was Anunovich Associates which renovated the Reliance Building in Chicago. Starbucks moved into the restored station as did a branch bank.
Click here to see pictures of Gerber's Dempster Street station restored after its move.
In 1925 Gerber completed his crowning achievement, the Prairie Style station on Dempster Street in Niles Center (later renamed Skokie), IL. This magnificent structure included terrazzo floors, intricate eaves and bracket work, and strong horizontal lines characteristic of this uniquely Midwestern style. A Gerber touch included the exterior globe lamps. On the morning before its opening the architect's late son, Burton Gerber, recalled seeing his father on a ladder hand polishing the windows.
The Dempster Street Station first served rapid transit trains from the Insull-affiliated Chicago Rapid Transit system (the"L") and the next year trains were added with interuban service from the Insull-controlled North Shore Line. Fast and sleek North Shore Line trains stopped at Dempster Street on their way between Chicago and Milwaukee, using this new bypass. Both the CRT and the North Shore Line drew their power from Insull's Commonwealth Edison company whose wires still are strung over the building today. The North Shore Line used the two tracks in the picture above occupied by a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) "L" train, stopping on the west side of the building to board passengers. This station helped fuel the growth in Chicago's northern suburbs in the 1920s.
Two years after the North Shore Line was abandoned in 1963 the CTA resumed transit operations from the Howard Street "L" terminal 4.6 miles northwest to Dempster Street in an experimental service soon nicknamed the "Skokie Swift." This experiment became a success and a permanent "L" line now referred to as the CTA "Yellow Line." Passengers board from a new building just south (behind) of this location.
Dempster Street Station, looking east. Tracks in the foreground are of the recently (Spring 2002) abandoned Union Pacific (former C&NW) Skokie Subdivision freight line. The last customer was the Crafty Beaver lumber yard at Oakton St. North of Dempster St. the C&NW swung over onto former North Shore Line tracks which paralled its own freight line. Talk continues about extending L rapid transit service north of Dempster St. to either Old Orchard or Northbrook malls, both of which are near this former North Shore Line Skokie Valley route.
In 2003 grade crossing were removed at several locations along the former C&NW Skokie Subdivision and paved over, including Dempster St.
Sketches of west and east Dempster St. station profiles shown below (c) copyright J.J. Sedelmaier Productions Inc.
Gerber built four stations between 1920 and 1926 with similar Prairie School design-Dempster Street (see above) in Skokie, IL, Mundelein, IL, Ravnia St.-Highland Park, IL, and Kenosha, WI. Mundelein and Kenosha stations were sisters of each other, while the Dempster Street station was twice the size of its look-alike siblings. The Mundelein and Ravinia Street stations of the North Shore Line are gone but the Kenosha one survives today as a community center, replacing a the Spaghetti Station restaurant formerly in the building. Just the south and western sides of the Kenosha station survive intact as additions to the other sides in later years mask its identity.
WILMETTE, IL-LINDEN AVENUE. Before & After.
One of Gerber's earliest buildings was this terminal building for the Northwestern Elevated Railroad (CRT/CTA predecessor) which ran electric rapid transit "L" trains from Chicago through Evanston and into Wilmette. Gerber was an employee of the Northwestern Elevated at the time he build this station in 1913 (expanded in 1921). It is a great example of the Bungaloid Style from that period with its heavily bracketed eaves-and Gerber's globe lamps. At the time of the first photograph in 1997, a fence was placed around the building to prepare it for renovation into a branch bank. The second photograph shows the Wilmette station on November 19, 2017 after renovation and empty.
EVANSTON, IL-SOUTH BLVD.
"South Boulevard CTA Station, Evanston, IL Nov. 19 2017
A challenge that Gerber faced in designing new stations along the Chicago Rapid Transit (CRT) line which ran through Chicago's North Side into Evanston and Wilmette was tight space. Gerber was forced to shoehorn functional yet attractive transit stations into narrow spaces beneath the tracks and platforms of the "L" overhead. The South Boulevard station in Evanston is one example of several (Bryn Mawr, Wilson, Howard in Chicago; Central Blvd. and South Blvd. in Evanston) surviving stations where Gerber used an elegant Beaux Arts design which held not only the normal ticketing facilities but also leased retail space which returned revenue to Insull's CRT. These shops sold newspapers, candy, cigarettes, and other similar items to commuters passing through. During the time of construction of these stations in the early and mid-1920s, the Beaux Arts look was much in vogue for new commercial buildings in Chicago.
This busy depot at the corner of Michigan and 6th Streets in downtown Milwaukee was built in 1920. It was the northern terminus of the North Shore Line. In this view streetcar tracks belonging to the Milwaukee Electric run in front of the station. North Shore Line interurbans entered from the south. The station was demolished years ago and replaced by a non-descript concrete office building that held the offices of Time Insurance and Fortis. Now it is mostly empty.
Gerber's Beaux Arts station is at the northwest intersection of Wilson and Broadway Avenues in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. It replaced an earlier Gerber station, and before that, one designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Over the decades tacky remodeling and the removal of the ornate section above the entrance have detracted from its original appearance as built in 1923. This photo, like others in my collection, came from the architect's late son, Burton Gerber. Note the sign showing "Arthur Gerber-Architect" in the blow-up inset photo.
Another view of Gerber's Wilson Avenue Station, this time looking from the southwest. March 2014.
This view is from December of 2017. The replica facade is awaiting restoration and the terra cotta walls have already been scrubbed clean from years of grime and graffiti. As reported in the Chicago Tribune and elsewhere the Wilson Avenue CTA station is undergoing a complete restoration with the historic facade being restored and the building to be renamed "The Gerber."
ASBURY AVE.; EVANSTON, IL
Long-time Evanston resident Gerber designed a series of rapid transit stations which opened in 1925 between Howard Ave. in Chicago and Dempster St. in Niles Center (now Skokie). These stations closed when local service was discontinued by the CRT in the late 1940s. North Shore Line interurbans never used these stations which were for purely local service. This particular example straddled the CRT/CNS&M right-of-way at Asbury Ave. in Evanston, another creative use of space. The station was entered at the upper, street level which hosted a snack shop and ticket office.
This photo shows Arthur Gerber with a crowd at the 1930 opening of his Merchadise Mart station of the Chicago Rapid Transit (now CTA) . The architect is at the far right in the photograph-cigar in hand! This view shows the interior of the station which served what was then the world's largest building by volume. The exterior of the station still spans Orleans St. which ran below the CRT tracks.
Photo courtesy of the late George Krambles.
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