When Michael B Harlow, known as “MB”, decided to try his hand at real estate development shortly after the turn of the century with his Cottage Park venture he followed the standard route of the day, buying a tract of land, laying out a grid of streets and dividing the land into rectangular plots. He rarely put up the houses, for the most part he simply sold bare lots to his customers.
While MB had no interest in building up an entire development, he did want to set the “tone” for an upmarket neighborhood. To that end he immediately put up three substantial houses in the heart of Cottage Park. Interestingly, to do that he reconfigured the lot arrangement that he himself had laid out. The Cottage Park lots ran north-south lengthwise, so that they faced the east-west streets, Nelson and the south side of Monroe. For these houses, however, he took three adjacent lots facing Linden (now Nelson) and re-divided them to create three lots that now faced the secondary 6th (now Wayne) Street.
The first of these houses, now 1405 Wayne, was built in 1907-1908 and its two similar neighbors at 1407 Wayne and 1409 Wayne the next year. All are handsome houses but their most striking features are the gorgeous windows. Amazingly, even after over a hundred years, all three still have their original units, a testament to the aesthetic understanding and commitment of generations of owners.
Meanwhile, two additional houses had sprung up across the street within a few years, almost certainly drawn by the three sisters. The 1921 Sanborn fire insurance map shows the five houses clearly.
The 1921 Sanborn map recaptioned with today's street names and numbers.