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History of the Edwardsville IL home at 3950 Raymond Road

By Vaseline May30,2024

This is what the house at 3950 Raymond Road in Edwardsville looks like today.

This is what the house at 3950 Raymond Road in Edwardsville looks like today.

Cindy Reinhardt/For the Inquirer

Editor’s Note: In honor of National Historic Preservation Month, local historian Cindy Reinhardt tells the stories behind some of Edwardsville’s historic buildings in a series of eight articles throughout the month of May.

The home at 3950 Raymond Road, on the east side of Edwardsville, resembles the older Edwardsville homes found in the area, but with a construction style that is slightly older than its immediate neighbors.

However, this house has an unusual story. It was built around 1933 in a community known as Sunset Garden on Route 66, about a half mile west of Route 157. The house was built on land owned for many years by the John Francis Dickman family. When John died in 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression, he had an estate valued at $22,000. It was an impressive feat for a man who lost his father when he was a toddler.

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Before he died, John made sketches showing which parts of his estate would be inherited by which of his children. Two of his sons, Leonard and Hilbert, were given farms across from each other on what was then Route 66 (now Chain of Rocks Road). Their properties were between Sand Road to the west and the former Illinois Terminal Railroad tracks to the east, which is now a bicycle path.

Hilbert and Leonard Dickman were born in 1904 and 1906, respectively, and married sisters Mary and Frances Zajicek on June 21, 1933. The newspaper report on their wedding stated: “Both couples have set up new homes in Sunset Hills Garden.”

Hilbert built his home on 1.1 acres on the north side of Route 66. He did a little farming, but his full-time job was as a clerk for the Nickel Plate Railroad. Leonard worked part-time for the railroad, but was also a farmer. Because the area was so prone to flooding that threatened his crops, he also opened a Shell gas station, actually a pump in front of the house, and sold gasoline on Route 66 to bring in some extra dollars. Because the water table was so high, the gas tank for the pumps was located above ground on the west side of the house.

Leonard’s son Dennis remembers stories of how when Route 66 flooded, poles were placed on either side of the road so traffic could stay in their lanes. When trucks passed by, the ‘wake’ would hit the floor beams of the house on the south side of the road. Hilbert and Mary’s house, on the north side of Route 66, was built on a rise so it wasn’t very close to the water. They had a cellar, not always a dry cellar, but a pump was useful.

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Both brothers, tired of frequent flooding, sold their properties and moved to higher ground near Maryville in the late 1940s. Leonard sold his to Edward Lewis, who would go on to found the Tourist Court Restaurant and Filling Station. He had a garage and also added some cabins.

Hilbert sold his house to Levi Samuel Miller, a railroad conductor for the Illinois Terminal Railroad. Like Lewis, he added at least two tourist cabins behind his house. Levi and Pauline Miller lived in the house until 1975, when the state of Illinois purchased the property for bridge construction. Ultimately, no construction was done on that site, but it was owned by the state for many years. The location now has a mini-storage.

In 1975, when the state was ready to take over the property, a colleague of Miller’s, William Morris, looked for a house but couldn’t find one he could afford. Levi Miller offered to sell him his house for $1,500, but he had to move it. The Millers were building a new house on the bluff. It wasn’t ready yet, so the Millers moved into the only tourist cabin still standing, while William, his wife and daughter moved into their new home in Sunset Garden. They wouldn’t stay there long.

William Morris Jr. grew up on Raymond Road. His parents built a house there when he was seven. When he was in high school, the area around them was subdivided, and to prevent neighbors from getting too close, William’s father wanted to buy a lot next to their house. It was only about half an acre, but money was tight in those days. William Jr. worked for a local farmer and had cash. He and his father shared the costs with the understanding that if William Jr. If he ever wanted it for something, his father would give him half. He made up for that in 1975.

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It took a few months to prepare the site for the new home, and additional work to prepare the home for the move. For starters, the Millers wanted to take their custom kitchen cabinets with them for their new home, so William remodeled the kitchen before moving the house. He also had to disconnect the electricity, move the boiler and remove the roof, laying it flat to make the move easier. The house would be moved along state highways, county roads and city streets, so he had to get permits from all of them.

He also had to widen one of the roads along the path. Ridge View Road was a narrow country road in 1975. William had to dig out the banks on either side and drag earth to their new building site, to make the road wide enough for the house to pass through.

He hired Cruikshank House Moving, an East St. Louis company that has been moving homes for generations, to move the house. State troopers accompanied them on the state highway, from Route 157, up Sunset Hill to Center Grove Road. Then they were on their own.

William and his father went out in front of the house, pruning tree branches, cleaning out mailboxes, etc. Center Grove Road was a narrow two-lane asphalt road. The bigger problem, however, was that there was no ramp over the multiple railway lines. Crossing the tracks was harrowing because William, even though he worked for the railroad, neglected to make prior arrangements with them. The Nickel Plate then used the tracks only to connect with Richard’s Brick Company, but the Chicago Northwestern Railroad still had regular trains. Appointments had to be made the same day and without cell phones.

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Cruikshank had had a man on the roof the entire time it was moved, along with a crew running in and out under the wheels to make adjustments. After crossing the railroad tracks on Center Grove Road, the house traveled up the hill, along Route 159 to Goshen Road, and from Goshen to Ridge View Road, where they were confronted with another problem.

On Ridge View Road, as things went downhill, the house got away from them, faster than the truck pulling it. The crew adjusted the jacks and sent him into the bank to stop him. The lead truck then had to drive around Dunlap Lake to get to the back of the house and pull it from the shore.

From Ridge View Road, the house turned to Leslie and eventually to Raymond Road, where the foundation of a new foundation awaited. It had been a long day – 15 hours and 9 miles moving the house to its new location. Cruikshanks parked the house and told the Morrises they would return the next day to put it in place.

The next day they placed it above the foundation and left it on beams so that concrete blocks could be placed between the foundation and the house to complete the basement walls. Windows were planned where the long beams supporting the house were located. When that work was completed, Cruikshanks returned to remove the bracing and support beams and lower the house onto the new foundation.

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It took another three weeks to put the roof back on, reconnect the electricity and plumb the house before the Morrises could move back in. During that time they stayed with William’s parents in their house next door. One thing they didn’t have to do was move the furniture back into the house. The house was moved fully furnished, even the dishes were left in the cupboards. William Morris remembers that nothing was broken and there was only one small crack in the arch of the 42-year-old house. Cruikshanks knew what they were doing.

Sources for this article include material from the Madison County Archival Library, articles from past issues of the Edwardsville Intelligencer, land records in the Recorder of Deeds Office, and interviews with members of the Dickman and Morris families. If you have any questions about this article, please contact Cindy Reinhardt at [email protected] or 618-656-1294.

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