A little slice of Evanston history from Brown Avenue

When Carol Voogd sent a letter to the current owner of her childhood home, she wasn’t expecting much. She moved from Evanston in 1964 but grew up on Brown Avenue for 14 years in the first house on the street.

In 1949, the house was moved from Howard Street and set on a new foundation. Voogd and her family were the first and only residents on Brown Avenue until the mid-1950s. Voogd said she was in the first class at Dawes Elementary School. Her older siblings had to walk more than a mile to Oakton Elementary School years before.

“It was an ideal childhood,” she told the RoundTable. “I climbed trees and rode my bike everywhere and we never came in before dark except in the winter. It was a different time. There were long and wonderful summer nights, and we could see the Milky Way.”

A few days after Voogd sent her letter explaining her history, the house’s current owner, Abby Brown, saw an envelope fall through the mail slot in her front door.

Carol Voogd sent a letter to Abby Brown, the current owner of the house, in March. Credit: Photo provided

“I came downstairs after work and saw it come through the mail. I thought it was weird it was just one letter,” Brown said. “And then, it said, ‘To the owners of my childhood home’ – my heart stopped – and then I sat down and slowly opened it.”

Voogd said she hoped Brown would acknowledge the picture she sent and the little slice of neighborhood history she shared, but what she was not expecting was a RoundTable investigation into the Brown Avenue house that has touched the lives of its past owners.

Brown said she and her husband were looking for houses after moving from a condo in 2020. She was exhausted from all the tours, but her husband insisted on one more. After all, how could the Browns say no to a house on Brown Avenue?

“It was a super rainy day and we had already looked at a ton of houses and I was just done, I didn’t even want to go but then we walked through the door and it was the most quaint and charming home and we knew immediately that we wanted it,” she said.