As you know from Society President Jeff Caudill’s recent member letter, we are all excited to be on the path to a new home in Park Ridge in the Solomon Cottage at The Youth Campus. More information on this extraordinary news within.

The centennial year of Park Ridge as a City begins in May, 2010, exactly 100 years after Dr. Albert Buchheit was elected our first Mayor. This offers a wonderful opportunity to draw attention to the good story of our local history before, during and after our city centennial year. From the Park Ridge Country Club in 2006 to the Park Ridge Public Library in 2013, at least eight community organizations will have celebrated 100 years of continuous uninterrupted operation in Park Ridge, including The Youth Campus.

Watch for our redesigned web page soon. Pennyville.org will continue as our means for keeping everyone informed about Society events and progress to our new home.

The Society Trustees thank Judy Kaplan for stepping back to her role as publisher of the Lamppost. We have received many compliments about her work on our most recent issues and are delighted that she is helping us again.

We hope to see you at our first general program of the year:
Anne Lunde’s presentation on “Digging Into the Past”
on Thursday Evening, May 21, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

The Society Museum at Garden and Prairie will be open on Saturdays in June and July from 9 am until noon.

Please tell your friends and neighbors about this last opportunity to visit our current home.


At our speaking program at The Youth Campus in April, 2005, we were warmly received by thenCEO, Joe Loftus. We began a dialog with him about the rich history of Pennyville, Brickton, and Park Ridge, and the approaching centennial year of the continuous mission of the Park Ridge School for Girls.

We discussed a cooperative plan to enhance that community history through a closer relationship, just as property taxes at 41 South Prairie Avenue began to escalate. When Joe Loftus moved to another career opportunity, we continued our conversation with Richard DiStasio, co-chair of the Board of Directors, who listened carefully to our vision of common interests. Soon after the arrival of new CEO, Jim Guidi, our dialog resumed, and Dr. Guidi forthrightly invited the Historical Society to continue its mission in an unused cottage at The Youth Campus, an invitation unprecedented in its 100-year history.

Dr. Jim Guidi, the Youth Campus CEO, and Jeff Caudill, Park Ridge Historical Society President, sign the Solomon Cottage Lease, April 21, 2009

The Society has just signed a long-term lease for this purpose, and we are in a ‘due diligence’ period to make certain that we can accommodate any environmental remediation needs at the Cottage.

Assuming no major concerns arise in this regard, we will then commission architect Walker Johnson to prepare conceptual plans for our vision of the new home of the Historical Society within the Solomon Cottage.

Walker Johnson’s portfolio speaks well of his work with many historically significant buildings, following a distinguished career at Holabird and Root, successors to Holabird and Roche, architects for the first School Cottage in 1908.

The Board of Trustees is committed to this transition, and is optimistic that we can raise the funds we need for this venture. The Board is pleased to announce that two community members have stepped forward to work together with us as an Advisory Committee, acting as a sounding board for our planning and fund-raising work for this journey.

David Hiller is the son of our own Shirley Hiller, long-time member of the Society and 57-year Park Ridge resident. Mr. Hiller is the past President, Publisher and CEO of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. He values the legacy of Paul Carlson in our mission of preserving local history, and brings to our cause knowledge of how successful historical societies and history museums work.

The Solomon Cottage, 2009

Shlomo Crandus and his family have lived in Park Ridge for over ten years. He serves our community as the President of the Park Ridge Library Board of Trustees, and he values the presence of a strong historical society to preserve community stories and traditions. Mr. Crandus’ vocation is in the financial world, and this will serve us well as we make plans for our move to a new headquarters.

We now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to occupy a historic location reflecting well on us, on The Youth Campus and on the Park Ridge community. We can design the interior space with the latest technology in mind, while retaining charming period decorations found in our current home. No more property taxes, very reasonable rent, but there is a ‘catch.’ We must raise funds to renovate this 100-year old Cottage, which has been unused for a number of years. We will ask for your help on this mission.

Our vision: We will preserve the history of Park Ridge


Jeff Caudill has convened a Steering Committee for the purpose of listing ideas to promote awareness of and to celebrate our local history during the City Centennial year beginning in May, 2010. Members of the Committee are the Kalo Foundation, Park Ridge Heritage Committee, and the Public Library, in addition to the Society. Many good ideas were tabulated during the first Committee meeting.

Can you name the other four centennial Park Ridge organizations not specifically listed in our cover article? Answers will appear in the next issue of the Lamppost.


Paul Carlson, 73, a lifelong resident of Park Ridge and instrumental in the founding of the Society in 1971 as a Charter Member. He stayed active in our affairs all these years as a Trustee. Paul may be best remembered for teaching history for 50 years in Maine Township, and was given the rare acclaim of membership in the Maine Wall of Fame in 2006.

Gary T. Johnson said well for all of us: “Paul Carlson was a true lover of history, who was an inspiration to generations of students and colleagues at all of the Maine Township High Schools. His work with preserving the history of Park Ridge and honoring those who have served our country will be particularly remembered. We are all grateful for a life well lived.”

Harry O’Brien, 72, was never too busy to help the Society with its community programs: Pennyville Days, the Antiques and Collectibles Market, and the Town of Maine Cemetery tours. As Mary Schurder said of his years of service to our city, “If there was something that needed to be done, and no one else offered, he would.” Harry enjoyed his work with the Society following a 25-year career as Executive Director of the Park Ridge Chamber of Commerce.

His easy-going, engaging style with people was responsible for many new Members who signed up during the ‘Spirits of Old Park Ridge’ tours.


The First Maine Township High School

Since last November, the Park Ridge Historic Preservation Task Force has met regularly at City Hall to learn more about the technical, statutory and beneficial applications of preservation to the suburban landscape.

Society Members Paul Adlaf, Anita Bloom, Milton Nelson, Steve Huening and Judy Barclay are members of this 14-person group.

A consensus vision for the first draft of a Park Ridge Historic Preservation Ordinance is being written up by the City Attorney for additional review. Upon adoption of such an ordinance by the City Council, the work of the Task Force is finished, and creation of a Historic Preservation Commission would be enabled.


Greetings to all!

Thank you for sending in your 2009 renewal form and dues. It is with happiness that I open each letter and try to match names with faces. The PRHS appreciates your membership! Please introduce yourself at future gatherings.

The society extends its sympathy to the families of members who have recently passed away: Paul Carlson, Harry O’Brien, Chris Diez, John Hank, and Mary Hank. We thank them for their superb contributions to the society.

These are busy times for the Park Ridge Historical Society. We look forward to creating our new museum at The Youth Campus Solomon Cottage. With all the excitement comes a broadened vision, and a need to spread the word to the community. All members are invited to help move this project forward.

Accomplishing our goals will require as many dedicated members as possible. How can we as members increase our membership base?

Here are three ways—maybe you can think of some too!

  • Share this copy of the Lamppost with a friend over a cup of coffee.
  • Bring a friend to the museum this summer on Saturday mornings. Before you stop at the Farmer’s Market, come over to the museum and say hello. We always welcome families. Children love the museum, too!
  • Attend the Spirits of Old Park Ridge Cemetery Tour in the fall. Watch for the date in the next Lamppost. Enjoy the portrayal of our founding families by festively costumed actors and actresses. Always a great time to visit with and meet other members. Bring a friend or neighbor!

Let us always remember, our members are our most valuable asset. Help us make history come alive! Join Today! There is still time to become a 2009 PRHS member!

Mary Ann Tanquary, Membership Chair


Looking along Northwest Highway – Carpenter Home (left) Carnegie Library (right). Recorded by Gloria Boye in the early 1950’s

View May 2009 Lamppost Newsletter PDF