• adriennewfawcett

Somewhere Over The Chimney

There was light between Saturday's rain showers and thunderstorms. So much light that Neil Dahlmann shot this photo of a rainbow from the back of his house overlooking Lake Michigan. The interesting-looking brick structure in the center of the frame is all that remains of the "Stearns Chimney."

Neil and his wife Mary Dahlmann live on Bluff Road on the first parcel of land claimed here after the 1833 treaty of Chicago opened the area to settlers. Only three homes have stood on the property in all this time: Lake Bluff's first European settlers, John and Catherine Cloes, built their homestead in 1836, and years later Catherine Cloes built a brickyard nearby with another early settler, Henry Ostrander. In 1895 the Cloes family sold seven acres of lakefront property to newspaper publisher A.K. Stearns, who demolished the Cloes home and built a new house centered on a 16-foot yellow-brick chimney. (The bricks might have come from Mrs. Cloes’ brickyard, which was nearby on Birch Road, but the Dahlmanns don’t know for sure.) At that time, the Stearns house was 75 feet inland from the bluff. Today due to erosion, the chimney is literally about to tumble into the lake.

“Someday it will tip over, and we’ll wake up and it won’t be here,” said Mary Dahlmann.

To learn more about how the Dahlmanns came to be only the third family to own Lake Bluff's first settled property, please visit the Lake Bluff History Museum's website.