Rance, Henry B.
Developer Henry B. Rance was born in India, the son of a British Army officer. Rance served as a welfare worker during WWI; a photo from that time period shows him in uniform, meeting his top-sergeant son Arthur in Paris after the 1918 Armistice. Anticipating that development would soon come to West Ridge, 53-year-old Henry B. Rance set up the first real estate office in the area in a small structure at the southwest corner of Devon Avenue and Western Avenue in the spring of 1920. His two sons, Arthur H. and Hubert F. Rance, joined him soon after. Their business, the Prudential Realty Company, prospered and by 1927, the impressive Prudential Building at 2345 W. Devon Avenue (currently the Tahoora restaurant) was built to house it.
Henry B. Rance's family first lived at 6444 N. Talman Avenue in a frame Dutch Colonial Revival home built in 1922. In 1926, the family built a large, elaborate, three-flat at 2650 W. Albion Avenue at a cost of $25,000. Shared by brothers Arthur H. Rance and Hubert F. Rance and their families, the three-story house boasted all of the modern conveniences, as well as a ballroom, large back yard, stables, and garages.
The Rance family of developers and their business, The Prudential Realty Company, were well known within the West Ridge neighborhood. Henry Rance, a committed community activist, founded the North Town Improvement Association and served as the Association’s first president. This organization was credited with successfully promoting the area, resulting in the building of schools, the extension of the Devon streetcar line, and the paving of many area streets.
The elder Mr. Rance, known in the community as “Dad”, died in March 1929 as a result of injuries incurred when he was struck by a one-man Devon Avenue street car. Days prior to his death, he had been circulating a petition for two-man operation of the cars, declaring the one-man cars unsafe because the many duties required by the operators distracted them and endangered the lives of passengers, pedestrians and motorists. Every business in the area was closed on the morning of his burial service. “What North Town is today is primarily due to his efforts” was the eulogy offered by one of the district’s merchants. Today Mr. Bert Rance, the grandson of Henry B. Rance, continues to operate Prudential Realty from his office on Devon Avenue in Lincolnwood.