A Treasure Trove of Family Tales Prospect Park Homes, History Featured in Holiday Housewalk

By Murphy, Jean | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

A Treasure Trove of Family Tales Prospect Park Homes, History Featured in Holiday Housewalk


Murphy, Jean, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Jean Murphy Daily Herald Correspondent By Jean Murphy Daily Herald Correspondent

One of Mount Prospect's "toniest" neighborhoods will be on display Dec. 6 when the Mount Prospect Historical Society holds its 26th annual Holiday Housewalk from 3:30 to 9 p.m.

"We chose to highlight the Prospect Park County Club neighborhood, just east of the Mount Prospect Golf Course, because it is such a lovely area and people long to see the insides of the houses," said Jill Tumberger, co-chairman of the event and a member of the historical society's board of directors.

Five homeowners will open their houses for interior tours while two others will have their homes' exteriors highlighted with their histories posted outside on lit podiums for the evening.

As it turns out, the neighborhood is a treasure trove of history, Tumberger said.

When Axel Lonnquist planned his Prospect Park Country Club subdivision for Mount Prospect, he envisioned it as "a model garden suburb." Together with his Northwest Hills Country Club, he promised in his announcement in the Cook County Herald in May, 1925, that the new subdivision would feature large, improved lots, a community center, golf course, tennis courts, bowling greens and a bridge path.

Such grand plans attracted the notice, of course, of prominent citizens in Chicago and elsewhere, so the wealthy and the up-and-coming flocked to Mount Prospect to buy homes and be a part of the glitzy new venture.

So it is not surprising that many of the original owners of this year's housewalk homes along Hi-Lusi, Wa-Pella and Lincoln avenues and Sha-Bonee Trail are highly interesting and notable for one reason or another. Those who purchased in Prospect Park in the 1920s and 30s were the movers and shakers of their generation, and that trend continued after World War II when building in the area resumed.

One of the more interesting homeowners -- Judson F. Lee, a professor of business and economics at the Illinois Institute of Technology from 1910 to 1945 -- lived with his family in a stately Cotswold Cottage-style home at 406 S. Wa-Pella Ave.

Lee, a native of Iowa, earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1913. He had begun at IIT as an instructor in 1910 while he was earning his doctorate and later became head of the economics department and eventually, head of the administration department. He built the Mount Prospect home, which was quite a commute from IIT on Chicago's south side, in 1928.

Lee was a historian, economist and author of a book on the role transportation played in the development of Illinois. After retirement from IIT in 1945, he spent a summer traveling through war-torn Europe to gather information on postwar economic problems for a second book, although it appears he never wrote one.

Instead, he taught business and economics at Ottawa University in Kansas until 1951 when his wife, Jessie, died. Several years later he remarried but died shortly thereafter, in early 1957, following a broken hip.

The Lee home has been owned by the family of Robert and Kay Moats since 1964. Interestingly, Robert Moats had something in common with Lee. He, too, held a doctorate. His was in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and he worked for the Northrop Corp.

Kay Moats lived in the home until she passed away last summer. She was an award-winning gardener and floral artist.

"Our mother was passionate about this property," said Betsy Moats Rose. "She devoted the last 48 years of her life to the care of the house and what seems like several lifetimes to hard work and creativity in the garden."

The Moats children plan to sell the house next year.

Judge Ralph E. Gould, who served as a Mount Prospect municipal judge from 1940 to 1963, was the original owner of the yellow brick colonial home at 501 W. Lincoln Ave. …

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