Evanston RoundTable

Good Sunday morning, Evanston.

The Vogue Fabrics building, a longtime Evanston fixture at 718-732 Main St., was torn down Friday to make way for a five-story building with apartments and stores. “This is part of the evolution,” said Nina Frantz, owner of the Plain and Simple furniture shop across the street, who came to observe. (Photo by Richard Cahan)

The RoundTable covers the fabric of Evanston – chronicling the city’s past and its evolution, the cheerful and sometimes tragic events and occurrences that are woven together to tell the community’s story. To support our nonprofit newsroom’s efforts, please consider becoming a member. And if you’ve already joined, thank you for your support.

In case you missed any of the most important news last week, here’s a roundup:

Five-year-old Devin McGregor died Thursday night, four days after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, the Chicago Police Department confirmed to the RoundTable on Friday. Devin had just started kindergarten at Evanston’s Willard Elementary School on Aug. 24.

Credit: Jasper Davidoff

There may seem to be little history of Asian, South Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Evanston. But the Evanston History Center is working hard to correct that. The RoundTable’s coverage is in four parts: The first story outlined the overall project and now the center’s Jenny Thompson tells The Story of Wong Aloy, tracing the history of a Chinese immigrant and Evanston resident from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. You can read the first part of Wong’s story now; the next two will be posted later today and Monday.

Credit: Wendi Kromash

The severe thunderstorms that rolled through Monday afternoon brought down large branches and whole trees across Evanston, and temporarily knocked out power for more than 1,600 ComEd customers. Public Works crews were out the rest of the day clearing debris, and the Evanston Fire Department reported only minor fires and no injuries due to downed power lines.

City News

Second Ward hopefuls introduce themselves in NAACP forum. Seven of the nine candidates running to fill the Second Ward’s vacant city council seat shared their vision for the community at a virtual public forum Tuesday night. The forum was co-sponsored by the Evanston/North Shore NAACP and the Evanston chapter of Iota Phi Theta.

Credit: Gina Lee Castro

What do you think about reparations? During its monthly meeting Thursday, the Evanston Reparations Committee revealed plans to measure public opinion about its housing grant program for longtime Black residents and their descendants. Northwestern University Professor Alvin B. Tillery Jr. aims to survey 4,000 Evanston residents. The committee tentatively scheduled a town hall to discuss reparations on Oct. 22.

Credit: Alex Harrison

City condemns and evacuates Howard Street apartments, condition termed ‘deplorable.’ Local housing authorities condemned a four-unit apartment building at 819-821 Howard St. last month. The roof had been leaking for more than five months and the landlord’s inaction on repairing it caused “structural concerns,” according to city inspectors. Council Member Devon Reid (8th Ward) toured the structure and shared pictures with the RoundTable.

Credit: Richard Cahan

No way to the water: Evanston limits wheelchair users’ beach access. “Imagine you’ve been invited to a party, but you can’t get to the bar,” said Karen Tamley, president and CEO of Access Living of Metro Chicago. In words and photos, the RoundTable’s Richard Cahan looks at how Evanston provides people who use wheelchairs access to its six city beaches, but only one beach offers an actual connection to the lake itself.

Evanston housing market remains hot after a chaotic year. The housing market has exploded across the country, with homes selling for 10% or 15% above asking price. As Evanston apartments and houses face an overflow of potential buyers and renters, the RoundTable reports on the local housing market. One trend: A dramatic increase in real estate and rental pricing in the Fifth Ward.

Credit: Najiah Osborne

Evanston’s new Workforce Development Coordinator opens up opportunities. In December, the city created a new workforce development position to help residents struggling to find career options amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The new job went to Nathan Norman (above), a longtime city staffer who began his career in the youth and young adult division.

Credit: Found Kitchen

Found restaurant to auction off front-of-house items in final month before closing. Glassware and tableware, chairs and tables, knickknacks, couches and even light fixtures will be part of a silent auction, says owner and founder Amy Morton. But for those who’ll mourn Found, all is not lost: Morton’s The Barn Steakhouse continues, and she is listed as 40% owner of La Rotunde Investment, which is seeking a liquor license to open at the site of the former Next of Kin restaurant.

Credit: Genie Lemieux

JoAnn Avery Way honors the Family Focus program director of 40 years. Forty years of love, laughter, counseling and supporting tiny ones, toddlers, teens, parents and grandparents were packed last weekend into a party for “Ms. JoAnn,” longtime program manager for Family Focus. She kindly flipped through photos and chatted with the RoundTable about being honored for her work with kids who are, in her words, “at-promise” – not “at-risk.”

Credit: Ian Mitchell

One-person strike pops up at Sherman Avenue road work. A single picketer stood in front of an Ozinga concrete mixer parked by Philbrick Park on Monday, holding a union strike sign. But there’s a mystery: Evanston Public Works Director Edgar Cano told the RoundTable that city staff were not aware of the picket, and Ozinga and the union have not responded to requests for comment and information.

Seventh Ward meeting centers on football parking and hospital eruv. Residents heard about fall football parking at Canal Shores Golf Course, as well as plans for an Evanston Hospital eruv – a Hebrew word that refers to a boundary marked by fishing wire defining a space in which Orthodox Jews can carry certain items during the Sabbath.

City government 101: Boards, commissions and committees. The City of Evanston has more than 40 boards, commissions and committees; it can be difficult to keep track! To help out, the RoundTable is publishing a City Government 101 to cover everything you need to know about the city’s numerous BCCs, including an interactive graphic at the end with information on each panel.

Two candidate forums coming next week in Evanston. On Tuesaday, Sept. 6, as part of the search for a new Second Ward City council member, a candidate forum will be held both in-person at the Morton Civic Center and virtually at 7 p.m. Also, on Thursday, Sept. 8, residents can get to know the three finalists to be Evanston’s next chief of police in a virtual candidate forum at 6 p.m.

City announces Labor Day holiday weekend schedule. The City of Evanston has announced facility closures and special service schedules for the Labor Day holiday weekend, Saturday, Sept. 3 through Monday, Sept. 5.

Public Safety and Health

Evanston man targeted and shot in McDonald’s parking lot Thursday afternoon. Police described the shooter as a man wearing a white shirt, jeans and a ski mask over his face. He allegedly shot into a silver Honda in the McDonald’s parking lot, hitting the 23-year-old man multiple times in his upper body, according to EPD.

COVID-19 update as of Sept. 1: Cook County stays in ‘medium’ community risk level, Evanston remains ‘low’ risk. The total number of new cases of COVID-19 in Evanston dropped to 39 for the week ending Aug. 31, compared with 49 for the week ending Aug. 25, a decrease of 20%. The seven-day average of new cases in the state increased 1%; hospitalizations, however, decreased 6%.

City interviewed referral-only candidates for top-cop job. The city’s search process for a new police chief, which has now reached three finalists, did not follow the employee hiring process laid out in its handbook, which calls for creating a public job description and posting the position for a minimum of 10 days. Community and Employee Engagement Manager Jessie Mayo said the city retains the right to deviate from this policy as needed.


Credit: District 65 YouTube

Consultant updates board on work building ties with union. Ann Cummins Bogan was hired to strengthen partnerships between the union representing District 65 teachers and the central administration as well as school principals and assistant principals. On Monday, she reported to the board about her progress.

Book fair founder says lit fest exclusion was racially motivated. Darryl Harvey, a Black children’s author and the founder of the Black Child Book Fair, was initially invited to be a vendor at a literacy festival organized by Evanston Township High School. But Harvey was later asked not to participate, he told the RoundTable. He said he was excluded because he centers Black stories and characters at his fairs. ETHS says it was because he wanted to change the name and the fair’s focus.

Art & Life

Credit: Gay Riseborough

A new mural debuts at the must-see Mitchell Museum. The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, 3001 Central St., boasts a brand-new mural on its south facade painted by lead artist Nigives White and nine native children. Each child signed his or her name at the bottom of the mural and, when introduced at the unveiling, spoke their name and that of the tribe or tribes to which they belong.

Credit: Gary Rejebian

Taste of Armenia festival draws a hungry crowd. More than 1,500 people came to Clark Street in front of St. James of Nisibis Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church last Sunday afternoon to enjoy the 34th annual Taste of Armenia, one of the largest Armenian cultural events in the U.S., according to organizer Gary Rejebian.

Credit: Duncan Agnew

Robert Crown hosts inaugural summer carnival. More than 1,000 people gathered for the inaugural Robert Crown Carnival, where kids and adults enjoyed games, raffle prizes, bouncy castles, crafts and free food. The event was the first major community gathering hosted at the community center since its official opening in October 2020.

Credit: Judy Chiss

Take a detour into vintage fun on Central Street. In June, vintage shop Frolic & Detour opened at 1909 Central St., replacing the former tenant, Healing Touch Massage, and giving the north side of the block some pizzazz, and possibly more foot traffic.

BOOKS: Indulge your architectural and interior design fantasies with ‘At Home in Chicago.’ Reviewer Wendi Kromash writes, “This luscious coffee table book, written by Patrick F. Cannon and photographed by James Caulfield (copyright 2021, CityFiles Press) is a wonderful addition to any library, but especially if the book owner has an interest in architecture, Chicago architectural styles, Chicago history or interior design.”

Dear Gabby: When should I call the doctor? In this week’s column, Gabby dispenses advice on feeling sad about federal retirements, deciding when something warrants a trip to the doctor, and Americanizing a foreign spouse’s sports interests.

Public Square

Simone Larson: My Reluctant Reader. In the latest installment of our new column from District 65 teacher Simone Larson, she dives into the phenomenon of “reluctant readers,” as she calls them, and the magic of helping a young student discover a love for literature.

Nancy Anderson: I’m past my prime and that’s OK. “I’m not as good as I used to be at recalling things, like the names of actors, authors, restaurants and the person I met two minutes ago. But I’ve improved my day-to-day living skills, at least it feels that way,” writes columnist Nancy Anderson.

Les Jacobson: Converging lines, converging lives. What is it about train trips that so captivates some people, including our columnist? Maybe it has to do with a peculiar form of geometry.

Peggy Tarr: Sharp tongues. Columnist Peggy Tarr recalls when she challenged a coworker who could dish harshly critical comments to others, but couldn’t take them herself. She also reveals one of her favorite sayings uttered by the late comedian Joey Adams.


ETHS football: Turnovers pile up on Kits in 42-17 defeat. Two short touchdown drives set up by Evanston turnovers in the first quarter shoved the Wildkits into a hole they couldn’t climb out of Friday night in Libertyville. The Kits ultimately turned the ball over six times in a 42-17 loss, evening their record at 1-1.

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Alex Harrison reports on local government, public safety, developments, town-gown relations and more for the RoundTable. He graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in June...