by Mary Jo Doyle
Named after Philip McGregor Rogers, Rogers Ridge, as it was called for a time, was originally 600 acres of land located along the Chicago & Milwaukee Railroad’s right-of-way (today Metra). A lakeshore road was planned to run in front of the village and this land lay 22 feet above Lake Michigan and was being drained by tile sewers put in at a cost of $7,000. Mr. Rogers, by the time of his death in 1856, had acquired alomost 1,600 acres in what would become Rogers Park, West Ridge, and Ravenswood. The price was $1.25 an acre, when he first began to purchase this land from the U.S. Government in the mid-1830s.
In 1865, Patrick Leonard Touhy married Catherine Rogers, daughter of the late Philip, and assumed control of the family’s affairs. Philip Rogers, a brother of Mrs. Touhy, died in 1869, bequesting his real estate holdings to his mother and sister. Mr. and Mrs. Touhy’s house, which stood east of Clark and north of Chase, cost $18,000 to construct in 1871. A square tower gave views in three directions and from it could be seen the greater portion of the lovely birchwood trees that surrounded their home and covered an area of 80 acres running eastward to Lake Michigan.
Mr. Touhy sold a plat of 100 acres to Stephen Purrington Lunt, half-brother of Orrington Lunt (1815-1897), for $80,000. Mrs. Lunt afterwards, sold land to Andrew B. Jackson, Charles H. Morse, Luther L. Greenleaf and John Villiers Farwell (1825-1908). These gentlemen organized under the name: The Rogers Park Land Company, and purchased another tract for a total of 225 acres. This land was acquired in 1871 and 1872 for $750 to $1,000 per acre. The least expensive home built on this land cost $1,200 and the average home was between $1,500 and $4,500. By far, the costliest home was the Touhy mansion.
The nearby train depot at Lunt and Ravenswood had five passenger trains stopping daily. Cost to commute into Chicago was $0.10 each way.