Welcome to the January issue of The Lamppost. The Society always strives to engage and interest our readers, and intends to publish the Lamppost quarterly this year. We often hear from you that you enjoy the eclectic mix of Society news, local history, personal interest stories and photographs which appear in any given issue.
The Society was incorporated by our ten founders on June 7, 1971. We will present several programs this year and next focusing on our own history, and the many residents who stood up to form this Society in Park Ridge those forty years ago. Many of you are still proudly respecting our community as our residents, and we will be honoring that respect and your own history this year.
Thanks to those readers who have supported our first Annual Appeal in November; we will thank you by name in these pages in the April issue. Your support of our ongoing programs and Society operations is so much appreciated.
Many of you have contributed as well to the Park Ridge Post Office mural restoration project; thanks to Society founder Paul Carlson, who preserved our mural as it was facing certain destruction. The Park Ridge Historical Society and the Mural Restoration Committee are raising sufficient funds to restore the mural to its original state for permanent display at the Park Ridge Library. If you have not done so, please visit our website, and follow the link to the collection of Illinois Post Office murals and other New Deal-era art works at Mary Emma Thompson’s website. You will be drawn in to the good story and works of art there. Dr. Thompson was our guest speaker in August, and provided a fascinating presentation of the local history behind many of the Illinois murals.
Finally, we will be fund-raising ourselves and working very hard to open the Park Ridge History Center at the Solomon Cottage for some tours and viewing later this year. We appreciate your patience and support as we move in this direction. You will not be disappointed in this grand place that we have planned for all in Park Ridge to celebrate our history .
The Annual Park Ridge Historical Society meeting was held on November 27, 2011 at the Park Ridge Country Club. Many were in attendance for a delicious luncheon, followed by a brief business meeting marked by the election of Officers and Trustees for the 2011-2012 Society fiscal year.
After many years of dedicated service Jeff Caudill has stepped aside as Society President, and Paul Adlaf was elected to the post of President, with John Murphy as Vice President, Patricia Adlaf as Secretary and Leonard Johnson as Treasurer.
Following the meeting our special guest speaker, Dr. John Low, Ph.D., presented a fascinating history of Native Americans in and around Park Ridge entitled, “On the Great Turtle’s Back: American Indians in Northeastern Illinois.” Dr. Low brought us back in time to follow the history of the American Indians in and around Park Ridge and some of the historical sites that can be visited. One interesting part of the discussion was about Che Che Pin Qua, the Potawatomi name given to Alexander Robinson, the son of an Ottawa mother and British father.
Alexander, his wife and their children are buried in the Indian Boundary Division park just South of Park Ridge, at Catherine Chevalier Woods.
YES, we will have our annual tour of the Town of Maine Cemetery this fall. (A date will be set soon.) This cemetery is a very special place. For more than 165 years, people have been laid to rest here after living interesting lives in Park Ridge. Soldiers, mayors, mothers and fathers, children and grandparents – all with stories to tell. Join us as we remember and recognize those who have called Park Ridge their home.
- Paul Adlaf – President
- John Murphy – Vice President
- Patricia Adlaf – Secretary
- Leonard Johnson – Treasurer
- Barbara Christopher
- Brian Kidd
- Emily Murphy
- Jeff Caudill
- Kirke Machon
- Maureen Connelly
- Millie O’Brien
- Nancy Pytel
The Society proudly notes the following new Members in 2011. We thank these individuals for their support of our mission to preserve the memories of the people, places and events which have made this a special community.
- Peter & Rita Antosh
- Dolores J. Barber
- Anthony H. Borrelli
- Dave & Judy Donovan
- Randall & Conni Derifield
- Michael T. Dolan
- Beverly Ellstrand
- John & Liz Gavin
- Donna Head
- Janet & Don Hoeg
- Bill & Barbara Scharringhausen
- Frank Kaminski
- Joe & Mary Kelly
- Brian & Sarah Kidd
- Philip & Janet Kralovec
- Emily Murphy
- Kirke Machon
- Paul Nebenzahl
- Laurie Pegler
- John & Maureen Pitt
- John & Julie Russell
The Society engaged a number of visitors to the Park Ridge Public Library’s Preschool and Enrichment Fair Saturday, January 21. It was a pleasure to take note of many visitors to the Fair interested in local history.
Many residents took note of the Christmas lights at the Solomon Cottage last month. Here are two photos of the team that installed the lights and decorations.
The Society provided storytellers for our friend Sheila Duda’s First Friday program in Uptown on December 2.
A community’s history is visually represented by its architecture, both commercial and residential. Park Ridge is no exception: surely our beloved Pickwick Theatre, designed by the firm of Zook & McCaughey, is the notable standout in the commercial category. A practicing engineer, designer and architect, William F. McCaughey is also credited with other commercial structures in Park Ridge, including Maine East High School, the Pantry Restaurant (now home to the Park Ridge Nonprofit Center), and George B. Carpenter School. A 1931 Park Ridge Herald newspaper article informs us that McCaughey was born in Virginia and came to Illinois in 1916, made his home in Park Ridge for many years, and maintained an office in the Pickwick building.
Although Zook has been credited with several residences in the area featuring his unique adaptation of Tudor-style architecture, finding a McCaughey-designed residence is not so easy. Park Ridge Historical Society member Len Johnson offers a missing piece of that puzzle with an interesting story. According to Len, he is the third owner of the home he purchased in 1987 at 720 South Lincoln Avenue, where he and his family still reside. He purchased the home from Monte Fassnaucht, who advised Len he had been living in the home for 30 years and had purchased it from the original owner, the architect William F. McCaughey, in 1957. Len says he also received from the prior owner a photo album compiled by McCaughey, featuring approximately 30 photos taken of the home during various stages of construction in 1954 (one is shown here, with a sign advertising W. F. McCaughey & Associates clearly visible in the foreground). Len tucked away the album and forgot about it for a number of years, until his interest was sparked one day while reading an article about McCaughey. He pulled out the album and aided by family and friends began to research his home.
Len says that Mr. Fassnaucht meticulously maintained the home during his period of ownership, making few if any changes to it. Continuing in the same spirit of stewardship, Len is proud to point out that he has also kept things intact and original whenever possible in providing a comfortable home for his family. (Despite the allure of modern replacements, all the windows are original.) Although, sadly, the large parkway tree showing McCaughey’s sign is gone, a newer parkway tree just a few feet over offers the promise that this home’s architectural moment in Park Ridge history will remain for many years to come.
Our thanks to Len Johnson for letting us tell his house-story. Does your home have a connection with Park Ridge history? We’d love to hear about it and share it in a future edition of The Lamppost. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 847/696-1973.