If you have ever passed through the North Park community on Chicago’s Far North Side, you certainly will recognize the brick two-flats flanking the Victorian. Maybe not those two-flats, but you have seen countless, identical buildings lining the neighborhood’s streets like books on a library shelf. The Victorian, on the other hand, now that’s a rare edition. Maybe you didn’t even know the neighborhood had a house dating back to 1897.
The house, located at 5223 N. Sawyer Avenue, was where Richard Jacobson lived from 1953 to 1962. His great-grandfather, John Hagstrom, built the house and it once was surrounded by prairie.
He doesn’t make any claims himself, but in a sense Richard is North Park royalty. Not only did his family build one of the community’s first homes, Richard’s grandfather, Rev. Frederic E. Pamp, was assistant pastor at North Park Convenant Church and a faculty member of North Park Academy during his “retirement” years. The Church is the raison d’etre for North Park, the driving force behind the establishment of North Park
College University and the surrounding community. The founding of North Park is a good story and I’ll get around to telling it one of these days.
Richard and I were pint-sized ships passing in the night. He left Peterson Elementary School the year before I started. He was eight, I was six, but some of our early experiences match up: we both had Mrs. Minnich for first grade, we both remember a school that was largely Jewish. Richard recalls what it was like at Peterson on the High Holidays:
“The school didn’t close but it totally cleared out. I remember one year when it was me, Linda Bergquist, and Ann Liljegren, alone in the classroom and killing time on Rosh Hashanah.”
In his comment to an earlier post, Richard says that being a member of the Scandinavian minority among the Jews of the North Park/Hollywood Park neighborhood was ultimately a useful experience. He later married a Jew and he converted to Judaism, which lends credence to a theory Danny Miller and I’ve been discussing via email. We’re guessing that in the majority of the world’s Scandinavian-Jewish marriages, at least one spouse–and sometimes both spouses–came from our old neighborhood.
By the way, have I mentioned my mother was raised in an traditional observant Jewish family–and her grandchildren (my sister’s two sons) are half-Norwegian?
Resources: City of Chicago North Park community map.
Related Posts: Valkommen to My Old Neighborhood.