Gazette Article by: Christine Fullerton
Appeared in the Gazette: Winter 1997
Several years ago when the Minnesota Historical Society reopened its exhibit area, a unique approach was taken to interpret its history from “A to Z.” Various objects and topics were depicted by “letters,” and visitors moved through the gallery “alphabetically.” The editorial board of the Winnetka Historical Society Gazette has decided to adopt a similar technique and has added a new feature, “WINNETKA HISTORY: A to Z.”
The southwest corner of Oak and Linden Streets has changed a lot in 140 years. The one thing that has remained constant is the concentration of traffic there. One of the busiest intersections in the village today, it also was a hub of activity in the early 1850’s when the Kinney Store was built at the corner.
The first trading post established on the North Shore, the Kinney Store was a simple, one-story, frame building with a porch in front. Built shortly before the railroad arrived here in 1854, early historical records do not make it clear whether the store was owned by Joel Kinney or his son Henry, but the owner also served as Winnetka’s first station agent.
The Kinney Store was converted into a school for two years from 1867-1868. Described in a 1939 letter written by resident Eliza Dwyer, “…Thirty students barely fit into the tiny building.” Dwyer’s letter also mentioned after the school was relocated in 1869, the store housed Michael Waltz’s tin shop and, later, Huxham and Kingham’s meat market.
In the early 1870’s the building was sold to Chicago attorney, David Fales, a founder of the Winnetka Congregational Church. One of Winnetka’s first commuters, he took the train to his Chicago office every day. An early example of “adaptive re-use,” the Kinney Store was transformed by Fales into a private home, becoming one the grand mansions of its day.
Around 1897 the house was sold to Christ Church for use as its rectory. In 1932 the rectory was razed by Illinois Bell Telephone Company to make way for its new plant. Today Ameritech owns the Georgian Style structure that faces Oak Street. Part of the building is used as a switching station, and the rest is leased.
From trading post to school, tin shop, meat market, private home, church rectory, and telephone plant, the southwest corner of Oak and Linden Streets has seen a lot of change, and a lot of traffic.