The Solomon Cottage: Home of the Park Ridge History Center

The Solomon Cottage that houses the Park Ridge History Center was first used as the receiving facility for the Illinois Industrial School for Girls (later, the Park Ridge School for Girls, The Park Ridge Youth Campus and The Youth Campus).

Park Ridge History Center

The School was chartered in Chicago in 1877 and opened in Evanston in October of that year.  It soon  became an important social institution providing dependent young girls an education and a means to support themselves in life.  In 1908, it relocated to Park Ridge on farmland purchased in part by a bequest of funds from Mary Talcott, widow of Mancel Talcott, Jr.  Julius Rosenwald, wealthy businessman, President of  Sears, Roebuck at that time, indicated his later career as a philanthropist through his financial support of construction of the first Cottage on the grounds of the new school location. It was named in honor of his friend Hannah Solomon, well-known social activist and President of the School when it relocated to Park Ridge from Evanston.  The School served thousands of girls and young women as a landmark social institution until its closure in 2012.

Designed by the prominent Chicago architectural firm Holabird & Roche, the Solomon Cottage provided living quarters for a house mother and seven young girls while they became acclimated to the School program.  In 1998, The Illinois Industrial School for Girls was listed to the National Register of Historic Places for two areas of significance:  the architecture of the buildings and as an institution which exemplified major child care trends in the United States.  A distinctive National Register plaque remains on the front of The Solomon Cottage.

In 2017, the Cottage was renovated to serve as the home of the Park Ridge Historical Society and will henceforth be known as the The Park Ridge History Center.  It will accommodate exhibits, both permanent and temporary, that illustrate the breadth of our community’s history.  The building will accommodate lectures, meetings, community gatherings, concerts and other presentations, and it will also house important archival material from the city’s past.

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