Dr. Mary Emma Thompson, a noted authority on Post Office murals in the state of Illinois, will present a slide show and discussion on this important legacy of the Federal government at the Park Ridge Non Profit Center (720 Garden Street) on Sunday, August 21, at 2:00 p.m. This timely presentation is an opportunity for residents to learn more about the broad history of Federal government programs which provided work opportunities during the Great Depression years of the 1930s to the early 1940s. Dr. Thompson’s program will specifically focus on the artwork commissioned by the U.S. Treasury for Post Office buildings. Murals for approximately seventy Illinois Post Office buildings were commissioned during this period.

Dr. Thompson is an authority on New Deal Treasury Department artwork in Illinois. For nearly twenty years, she has studied and researched the murals which still grace many of the Post Offices or communities to which they were assigned. She has published a number of guides and books intended to illuminate historic themes as depicted through mural art. Many of these books are available at the Park Ridge Public Library.

Park Ridge has a special connection to this 
program, as one of these New Deal-Era Post Office murals was on display in the Park Ridge Post Office from 1940-1970. That mural, a 6’ by 20’ work entitled “Indians Cede the Land,” will be discussed  during our speaker’s program of images and narrative illustrating the Illinois catalog of Post Office mural art.
Maquette for Indians Cede the Land
The Park Ridge Mural Restoration Committee is currently working to raise funds which would pay  to restore and conserve this mural so that it can on ce again be hung for community viewing at the Park Ridge Library. The Mural Restoration Committee is a collaboration of the Historical Society and the Park Ridge Library Board.
Although there is no admission charge for this program, donations to the fund for the restoration of the Park Ridge Post Office mural will be welcomed and appreciated. Please mark your calendars and be sure to join us on August 21 for a fascinating look at a piece of U.S history that reached out to touch not only
Illinois, but our own city of Park Ridge.


Be sure to mark your calendars and get ready to attend the annual Park Ridge Historical Society’s Antique, Collectible & Flea Market, which will be held in Hodges Park on Saturday, September 10, 9:00-4:00. Rain date is Sunday, September 11.The Society is actively seeking vendors for this event, so if you or anyone you know is interested in reserving a booth and selling, please contact Millie O’Brien at 847-825-5012 or call the Society at 847-696-1973.


Those who were in attendance at the Summit on Thursday, May 26, enjoyed a real treat as Those Were the Days Radio Players presented a night of classic radio. Live organ music and authentic sound effects, along with the radio-quality voices of these spectacular actors, brought to life many of the popular radio shows of the 1930’s and 1940’s. For those of us fortunate enough to be there that night, it was as if we had all stepped back in time and were actually sitting in the studio of a radio station, watching and listening as the radio show was broadcast live over the air.

“The Shadow,” “Little Orphan Annie,” and “The Aldrich Family” were just a few of the familiar radio shows that were profiled in the 70-minute performance. As part of a special Memorial Day tribute, the group also presented Norman Corwin’s iconic 1944 wartime documentary focusing on one specific soldier as seen through the eyes of those who knew him, and a 1942 Jack Benny program entitled “Going After Rommel.” These programs, though broadcast 70 years ago, still honor our troops and their sacrifices today. The group then closed with a performance of the classic Abbott and Costelloskit, “Who’s on First.” The Radio Players Northwest Ensemble has performed continuously in Park Ridge and the surrounding suburbs for the past twenty years. Doing about 25 shows a year for community groups and retirement homes, they bring laughter, tears,and enjoyable old time radio entertainment to their “listeners.” All in all, this was an evening of sheer nostalgic delight.


Artists were drawn to Park Ridge since the late 1890’s and their studios were scattered around town until about 1970. A highly recognized sculptor, Eugene Romeo, arrived here in 1943 and set a large studio behind his home at 1110 South Courtland. Today, all that remains is an empty grassy lot. The studio “was located on the west side of Courtland in the green space just north of a bank parking lot at the intersection of Courtland and Talcott,” writes a former resident of Park Ridge, Craig Moore. “Eugene Romeo and his wife Janet(Jane) were very good friends of my mother (Edith Moore), and Jane was down to our house visiting Mom at least once or twice a week. Gene painted my mother’s portrait twice, and I would guess that they were done right after WWII or in the early 1950s.

“I can remember visiting Eugene’s studio, located in a three-car garage with about a thirty-foot extension to the north where he kept just about every issue of National Geographic. The walls of this large room were lined with bookcases filled with the magazines. It was so full of stuff that there was no room for a car in the garage.

Romeo was a prolific sculptor in various mediums—bronze, marble, stone, iron, and plaster. He was especially skilled at bas-relief and high relief (a sculpture technique in which figures or other design elements protrude from a flat background.) Romeo was also a skilled painter and designer.He joined the McNulty Brothers Company in Chicago, experts in architectural detailing, including wall ornamentation and decorative façade castings. McNulty projects touched the walls of Chicago’s finest buildings, including the Board of Trade, Chicago Daily News Building, Soldier Field, Merchandise Mart, Wrigley Building, Union Station and the Field Museum.

We want to thank Craig Moore for his words on growing up in Park Ridge in the mid 40s through the 60s.

Another noteworthy example of Romeo’s work is the interior of the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, Illinois—an opulently embellished vaudeville
theater, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Park Ridge Community Church has a number of Romeo’s creations as well.
Even though Romeo’s studio is gone, some of his tools, drawings, studies, molds, and finished sculptures are on public display at the Maine Park Leisure Center at 2701 West Sibley, thanks to the Park Ridge Art League. The exhibit gives a glimpse into Romeo’s creative process, design reparation
and method of carving. The objects were donated to the Art League shortly after his death in 1960. The Maine Park Leisure Center is open Monday through Saturday.

Mark Your Calendars:
Sunday, August 21 at 2:00 pm
Dr. Mary Emma Thompson
“New Deal-Era Post Office Murals”
Park Ridge Non Profit Center
720 Garden Street, Park Ridge
Saturday, September 10 from 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Antique, Collectible & Flea Market
Hodges Park
Please see inside this newsletter for more information on both events.
View August 2011 Lamppost Newsletter