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Highland Park House Walk – October 17th

A gangster’s ploy on Highland Park tour
HOUSEWALK | Jake ‘The Barber’ faked his son’s abduction; sympathy sought at extradition
October 14, 2010
BY BILL CUNNIFF – Sun-Times Staff Writer

In 1932, when Jerome Factor was a student at Northwestern, his father — Chicago gangster John “Jake the Barber” Factor — arranged for him to be “kidnapped.” Jerome’s former residence, on a two-acre site overlooking Lake Michigan, will be open for viewing on Sunday during a housewalk in Highland Park.

“The fake abduction was a public relations ploy. Jake was facing extradition charges, and the reasoning was that people would be sympathetic to a father whose child had been kidnapped,” said Linda Marshall of the Highland Park Historical Society, the sponsor of the event. Jerome also was the nephew of Max Factor, founder of a cosmetics company.

Other highlights of the tour:

••A Queen Anne was built in 1897 for Bowen Schumacher, an attorney. His wife, Harriet, was the first woman to serve on the school board.

“Their activities ranged from New Year’s Day children’s dances to Mrs. Schumacher lecturing on pacifism,” said Marshall.

••An Italianate was constructed in 1875 for Stillman Bingham, founder of the Illinois State Dental Society and the Chicago Dental Society.

“The story has come down through the successive owners of the house that Bingham was good friends with Elisha Gray, an electrical engineer who was considered by many to be the true inventor of the telephone, despite losing out to Alexander Graham Bell for the telephone patent,” said Marshall.

According to local lore, Gray strung wires between the Binghams’ house and his nearby workshop, and the world’s first telephone conversation took place between these two homes.

In the 1920s, the house was extensively remodeled. The old porch was taken off, and the garage wing and bathrooms were added.

••In 1882, Caroline Chambers and her husband bought land for $300, and built a modest house. “In contrast to the grand houses built at the end of the 19th century, this house was built for a household that did not have live-in servants,” said Marshall. The house was restored by a dedicated preservationist.

••In 1897, Exmoor Country Club got its start by purchasing 100 acres of farmland, including a one-room 1849 log cabin — where John and Frances Stupey raised six children.

“Exmoor used the log cabin as a caddy shack,” said Marshall. In 1969, the country club donated the 325-square-foot cabin, and it was moved to its current location.

A log cabin was usually temporary housing, she said.

“As people became more established in an area, even if they didn’t tear the old homestead down, they would build around it, put clapboards up over it, or turn it into a barn.”

Visitors can compare the pioneer style of the Stupey cabin to the grand homes built just 30 years later. The tour traces the transition of Highland Park from a rural area to a suburb.

Hours are 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tour will begin at at 326 Central. Shuttle buses will be available. Tickets are $35, or $30 in advance. Call (847) 432-7090, or visit HighlandParkHistory.com.

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