Welcome to Ravenswood Manor

The Ravenswood Manor Centennial Oral History Project

The year 2014 marked the 100th Anniversary of the establishment of Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association (RMIA). The Centennial was celebrated with walking tours highlighting the architecture and history of the neighborhood, commemorative plaques for display on 100-year-old homes and a party open to all residents.

Additionally, the Centennial celebration inspired these oral history interviews conducted with long-term residents and led by Manor resident and historic preservation expert Jim Peters, and Manor resident and researcher Jackie Klein. The interviews were produced in association with StoryCorps, and are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

The subjects of the interviews are: siblings Peggy and John Byrne, Adrian Collins, Dick Lanyon, siblings Beth Newell Murphy and Susan Newell O’Connell, Ruth Robbins, and spouses Don and Eileen Valentin. Many thanks to the interview subjects for their participation—we proudly present their stories here.

Listen to insightful conversations with long-time residents who have had at least a 50-year connection to the neighborhood as of 2014. Below, on this page, are the full, 40-minute interviews that were conducted in commemoration of the RMIA Centennial. We have two additional pages or curated oral histories on particular themes, Bygone Businesses and At Play. Click on the banner to jump to those curated pages. Enjoy!

Full, 40-minute interviews, listen and enjoy

Photo by Jim Peters

John Byrne and Peggy Byrne

Siblings John Byrne and Peggy Byrne grew up on Wilson Avenue in the Manor and remained connected to the neighborhood. John is a current resident and a realtor, often working with clients buying or selling in the area. Peggy’s law office is located in one of the commercial properties on Manor Avenue. John and Peggy’s mother, essayist Katherine Byrne, often made Manor life a subject of her writing for the Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine. {Links: full audio recording; full transcript}

Photo by Jim Peters

Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins, a Manor resident, spent her earliest years living on Eastwood Avenue, and has lived in the Manor on and off since then. Adrian is an invaluable member of the RMIA’s Research Committee, offering many historic and humorous accounts of Manor life from the perspective of a youngster, adolescent, and adult. {Links: full audio recording; full transcript}

Photo by Jim Peters

Richard Lanyon

Richard Lanyon lived on Mozart Street for his early grade school years and later returned to live on Giddings Avenue as a young adult. Dick has stayed connected to our riverfront neighborhood through his 47-year career at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. {Links: full audio recording; full transcript}

Photo by Jim Peters

Beth Newell Murphy and Susan Newell O’Connor

Sisters Beth Newell Murphy and Susan Newell O’Connell lived in one of the Manor’s “gem” houses on Mozart Street during their childhood. Susan is a Manor resident living not far from her childhood home. Beth and Susan’s father is the namesake of the only honorary street sign in the neighborhood, “Honorary Dr. Frank W. Newell Way” on Sunnyside Avenue, between California and Francisco. {Links: full audio recording; full transcript}

Photo by Linda Montalbano

Ruth Robbins

Ruth Robbins moved to the neighborhood in 1924 as a little girl and currently lives in her childhood home. Ruth’s unique perspective of nine decades of Manor life parallels the development of the neighborhood and its surrounding institutions. {Links: full audio recording; full transcript}

Photo by Jim Peters

Eileen Valentin and Don Valentin

Eileen and Don Valentin chose an Eastwood Avenue home to raise their family and have lived in the Manor ever since. The neighborhood serves as a backdrop to their wonderful stories of raising five kids (all in different schools) while working and living in the city. The Valentins tell of helpful neighbors and comical characters that have made the neighborhood special. {Links: full audio recording; full transcript}

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