The prestigious Sauganash neighborhood, once a rich, Native American preserve, has long been regarded as a suburb in the city. Lying far northwest of Chicago’s downtown, Sauganash is primarily a residential neighborhood within Chicago’s Forest Glen Community Area.
The land where Sauganash stands was inhabited by Native Americans in the early 19th Century. The name “Sauganash” comes from Billy Caldwell, the Potawatomi son of a Mohawk mother and British officer father. Given the name “Chief Sauganash,” meaning Englishman, Caldwell mediated treaties between the Native Americans and the United States.
As thanks for his diplomacy, in 1828 the government gave him the nearly two-and-one-half-square-mile area that is now occupied by Sauganash and Edgebrook. This 1,600-acre parcel of land stretched along along both sides of the Chicago River—crucial for food, water and transportation—which accounts for our diagonal street pattern.
In 1840, Charles Johnson arrived from Sweden and purchased part of this land, building a farmstead near the corner of Peterson and Cicero Avenues where it remained into the early 1950’s.
In 1912 a small portion of the Billy Caldwell Reserve, 260 acres, was purchased by one of the oldest and most respected real estate firms in Chicago, Koester and Zander and named “Sauganash,” to denote the area’s history. While the first eight homes on Kostner Avenue between Peterson and Rogers Avenues were completed by 1924, two hundred homes were completed by 1930.
Sauganash is a blend of several distinctive architecture styles, ranging from bungalows and Cape Cod cottages to the palatial French and Classical Revival designs, as well as Art Deco and Art Moderne. The principal architectural style is Tudor Revival.
Koester and Zander laid the foundation for Sauganash’s distinctive green pace by planting more than 20 varieties of trees, including oak, sycamore and mountain ash, lending to the lush character of the community. By the 1930s, census records show the area catered to upper middle-class families.
An important Sauganash landmark is Queen of All Saints Basilica. The church, designed in a Neo-Gothic style by Meyer and Cook, was completed in 1960. The magnificent, cathedral-like church was raised to the dignity of a basilica by Pope John XXIII on March 26, 1962. The large window over the choir loft features eight different shrines of the Virgin Mary, each particular to a certain country or culture representing the different ethnic groups living in Sauganash.
In 2004 the Sauganash Chamber of Commerce formed to support the growth and development of business. Sauganash is home to a variety of large and small businesses situated in several professional office buildings, small storefronts and free-standing facilities. The Cicero Avenue business corridor has seen several phases of streetscape improvements, featuring trees, planter urns and wrought iron light poles adorned with stenciled community identifier banners, and hanging baskets.
The mile-long Sauganash Trail was created in 2008, running from Bryn Mawr to Devon Avenues. Designed for biking, strolling, running and walking the 15 foot wide trail of paved and soft-surfaces is lined with trees providing beautiful scenery spanning all four seasons.
Sauganash’s newest landmark is a mural under the Sauganash Trail overpass on Peterson Avenue near Kostner. Sauganash residents led a grassroots fundraising campaign to create this mosaic which features historical Sauganash images including churches, schools and more.
Despite the passage of a century since it was first conceived as a landmark community, Sauganash remains a wonderful place to live, visit and conduct business.