Monthly Archives: April 2018

History Matters at Oak Park River Forest Museum

I recently found a newspaper clipping indicating my grandmother had donated to Oak Park a ceremonial Camp Fire Leader gown worn by my great-grandmother in the 1920s.  After contacting the Oak Park River Forest Museum, I was excited to learn they still have the gown in storage and there was a possibility of someday seeing and touching this family treasure.

At that time in 2017, the museum was preparing to move into their newly renovated space created inside Oak Park’s oldest municipal building at the southeast corner of Lake and Lombard.

Originally built in 1898 as a firehouse by Cicero Township, the Historical Society invested private funds to transform this vacant building into a LEED accredited eco-friendly facility.

The front facade still resembles a firehouse from the street with beautiful decorative arching brickwork around the upper windows.

Inside, a knowledgeable and extremely enthusiastic curator/board member filled our heads with every detail of the building renovation,  exhibits, events, and resources.

The original two fire house pole chutes were discovered in renovation and can be safely viewed from above and below. There are plans in 2018 to install a real brass fire pole, which children will enjoy.

 

 

Upstairs, an area is dedicated to children’s interests with old games and dollhouses and toys…

 

 

 

 

and a space dedicated to special exhibits.  WWI was on display during our visit which my husband and I both enjoyed immensely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hometown Legends display wall offers brief biographies of many Oak Park River Forest citizens who have contributed to society:  architects, artists, and writers, entrepreneurs, scientists, and social activists.  We all know about Frank Lloyd Wright and Ernest Hemingway, but we were surprised at the number of amazing people that lived in Oak Park.  Who knew the inventor of Twinkies was from Oak Park, or the author of Tarzan?

There is so much more to see at this lovely museum.  As well, the Historical Society of Oak Park & River Forest plans many museum exhibits, events, tours, house and cemetery walks. Be sure to check their website calendar here.

C’est tout! 

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Oak Park Conservatory, A Hidden Gem

Historic Oak Park, just 9 miles or so from Chicago, is filled with so many architectural treasures, a lovely downtown with lots of shops, restaurants, festivals, music, and things to do.  However in the seemingly never-ending Chicago winter…we cannot help but count the days to warm vacations far, far away.

Determined to enjoy a little warmth and a taste of Oak Park’s hidden beauty on a recent Sunday afternoon, we set off to visit one of the top 3 historical sites, the Oak Park Conservatory.  Admission to this greenhouse gem is free, but of course donations are welcome.

April might be a little early in the season for the flowers to come, but there were some lovely blooms on display along with ferns, cacti, lemon trees, Koi fish pond, goldfish, turtles and 3 talking parrots.

George the African parrot was having a grand time saying Hallo over and over to a toddler who was parroting him back.  George’s mate, Sara will also sing if you sing to her first.

The Conservatory was built in 1929, designated an Oak Park Landmark in 2004, and consists of three indoor showrooms along with outdoor urban gardens.

Check out their website and you find their popular events list for children, KidsFest, Fall Fest, camps, the annual spring plant sale, gardening and nature classes, and the Uncorked Wine Nights where  perhaps we’ll run into you while celebrating summer.

C’est tout!


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