Today’s subdivision has to be the smallest one in Elmhurst. With just three streets intersecting North Avenue, just east of Route 83, North Graue Woods has the most eclectic selection of homes in Elmhurst. Starter homes built in the early 1930s have given way to some of the larger homes Elmhurst has become famous for. Nestled in this woodsy setting, these houses truly look like homes.
All three streets, River Glen Avenue, Shady Lane and Ferndale Avenue, end in cul-de-sacs. There is a path that runs from Shady Lane to Ferndale Avenue that the kids use to get to Emerson School and the park that is located there. Even though it is small, Graue Woods has its own homeowner’s association named the Graue Woods Betterment Association, founded in 1939 by Edward Benson. The association is still active and occasionally has representatives speak at City Council meetings.
The streets in this subdivision are once again aptly named. River Glen Avenue was within sight of the creek before so many houses were built, Shady Lane is named for all of the shade trees on the street and Ferndale Avenue is named for the ferns that grew in the lowland area it occupies. At least one of these homes appears to have been built by an unknown carpenter-builder named Fred Wilke, according to an old for sale sign found in an attic on Ferndale Avenue by its owner.
North Graue Woods also has a musical claim to fame. In 1946, Jimmy McPartland, a renowned cornetist, loaned his brother, Richard, money to build a home in what was then a largely undeveloped area of Elmhurst. Jimmy and his distinguished pianist and composer wife, Marian McPartland, often attended jam sessions in North Graue Woods. They would move the piano and crates and bushel baskets out onto the porch and the great jazz artists of the day would come out for spaghetti or barbecue and jam long into the night.
Marian and Jimmy ultimately divorced, and Marian moved to New York. She released many albums and had quite a career with the Marian McPartland Trio, which toured throughout the country. When Jimmy got cancer, however, it was Marian who returned to nurse him in his final days, remarrying him two weeks before he died. She went on to host NPR’s long-running “Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz.” When Marian passed away, she was buried with her husband in Elmhurst’s Arlington Cemetery.
Children in North Graue Woods attend the award winning Elmhurst District 205 schools Emerson Elementary, Churchville Middle School and York Community High School. Homes in North Graue Woods range from a very affordable entry level of $250,000 to $1 million. If you are interested in viewing homes in North Graue Woods, use LW Reedy’s new MLS Mapping Search tool or contact a LW Reedy Agent for information on this, or any of Elmhurst’s wonderful neighborhoods.
We gratefully acknowledge all of the time and assistance Nancy Wilson at Elmhurst Historical Museum provided. She is, and will continue to be, an invaluable resource for this series. Graphics included in this post were provided by Elmhurst Historical Museum.