Tag Archive | library

Coming Home to the Village of Park Forest


Illinois Trip – Day 2 -Park Forest

April 22, 2014

Park Forest sign

Park Forest is my hometown, I grew up here.   My family was here from 1966 (birth) to 1984 and it was a great place to grow up.  It was interesting seeing the changes 30 years after moving to Wisconsin. Park Forest is famous for being the first planned community after WWII.  An early nickname for Park Forest was “GI Town”.  Park Forest was built to address the lack of housing for all the returning vets of the the war. The village  was  ready for residents by 1948.  Enjoy this video showing the early history of Park Forest.

As of the 2010 census, the village had a population of 21,975, which is less than it’s peak of 30,000  in the 1960’s.   Park Forest  earned the “All American City” honor twice. The first time was in 1954 and the second time was 1976, when I was there.  What a time to be be there, when community pride was high.  

Let’s begin our tour of my hometown, right here with the sign at the edge of town at the intersection of Lincoln Highway and Orchard St.  Right across the street from here is another childhood memory of mine, this little structure at the edge of Olympia Fields, for a gated community called Maynegaite Woods.  When I was little I called this a “little castle” and always wanted to go inside.

Maynegaite signMaynegaite Little Castle

The Chinese house across the street.

Park Forest Asian house

We move further down Orchard, on our left is the building where the fire dept.  practice putting out fires.  I knew it as the Jaycee’s Haunted House, where we  went to get scared near Halloween. It is dedicated to Captain Adolph Pfeifer, who  died in the line of duty in 1963.

Park Forest Fire Dept. Training siteCaptain Adolph Pfeifer plaque

On our right is the Aqua Center, the outdoor pool complex where I learned how to swim.  They were getting it ready for summer.  This pool used to have a high dive.

Aqua Center

Aqua Center inside

Next to the Aqua Center is the Park Forest Public Library, where I spent MANY hours all the way through high school.  We had arranged a tour with the Library Director Barbara Osuch, to show us around.  She is very gracious and an asset to a place that was so important in my life.  I was especially impressed by the children’s area, completely revamped and modernized.   One theme has persisted over the years, kites.  When I was 12,  they had a  summer work shop on making kites out of plastic garbage bags and wooden dowels.  We made the kites, then went out to Central Park just outside of the library to fly them.

Park Forest Public Library

 

Park Forest Library Kid Zone

The view outside these windows facing Orchard USED to be my school, Lakewood. I was a student there from 4th-6th grade.  Here is a picture I took of the school in  1993  before it was torn down to make room for housing. Thanks for the great tour Barbara!

Park Forest Library windowsBarbara Osuch and us

Lakewood School 1993

Back behind the library is the Freedom Hall/Nathan Manilow Theatre, named after one of my town’s founders.  I have attended and even have performed there when I was a kid, tap dance recitals.  It opened in 1976 when I was 10.

Nathan Manilow Theater

Park Forest does not have as many restaurants as it used to have, but this red brick building on Orchard has housed a restaurant as long as I can remember. It has been Dunagains Irish Pub since 2013.

Dunagains Irish Pub

In the 70’s, the restaurant was called “The Country Squire”.  Here is an ad from 1977.

Country Squire Broiler ad 1977

The current business is still owned by the same family but has changed with the times.  They also still serve great food,  we found that out by having lunch there. I had soft tacos and Al had a Reuben.   Friendly staff  made us feel welcome and we would recommend coming here. They also have live music on some evenings.

Dunagains Collage

Lunch at Dunagains

No longer hungry, we continued our tour.  We got to the corner of Orchard and Indianwood, where my childhood Catholic Church resides called St. Irenaeus.  Some of my best memories are here, in the CCD religious program, and helping out at our summer day camp for two weeks every summer during high school.  It was just as beautiful inside, with distinctive stained glass windows.  We attended a Sunday service there in Oct. 2003 during our last visit.  Following are pictures from then.

St. Irenaeus Church St. Irenaeus inside 2003

St. Irenaeus windows

Just past the church on Indianwood  on our right is the bank and post office.  It was “The Bank of Park Forest” when I lived there. We sometimes sold Girl Scout cookies there in the post office. Drive-through on the right.

US Bank in Park Forest

Park Forest Post office

Across from the post office is the new Fire Department building. Also a memorial to fallen comrades.  Also a piece of metal from the World Trade Center.

Park Forest Fire Dept

World Trade Center metal

During my years there my family lived in two townhouses.   Homes are arranged in “courts”.  We visited my first court on Hemlock St. where I lived from birth to age 7.  We had to leave there because they were going to become condos, and they still are.

Hemlock court

This the back of our former apartment, this is a merge from summer 1974 and from this visit. This is my little brother and I, love that Schwinn Pixie bike I had then.

153 Hemlock 1974 and 2014

Our other apartment was on Forest boulevard, we lived there from 1974-1984. here in Court F-2.

Court F-2 Park Forest

We lived here, number 185 on the right.

85 Forest

There are individual trees in this court that I liked even as a kid, they are still here!  Also much larger!

Court F-2 tree 1 - 1986Court F-2 tree 1 - 2014

There are three red bud trees behind our former place, this is comparing 1986 and now.

Court F-2 Three Redbuds 1986Court F-2 Three Redbuds 2014

If you keep following the sidewalk, there once WAS a playground ahead. It is gone now.  Here is a picture I took of it in 1980. The same perspective NOW.

F-2 Park 1980

F-2 Former Park View 2014

On the right side of the picture used to be a road that went next to the park, the road has been gone for more than a decade, but the remnant still exists.  The park would have been left of this view.

Former Sears parking lot

The white structure you see behind the town homes in the top picture is a former landmark of Park Forest, the Tower. It was right next to Western Ave, which leads to Chicago Heights. Here is a better picture of the same tower.  This was 1989.

The Centre Tower 1989

In the middle of the former downtown was a slightly smaller version of this tower, but it had two clocks on it. Of course it was known as the Clock Tower.  It was the center of downtown when I lived there, and near it was (is) a stage for musicians to perform on summer nights.  Here is a newspaper clipping from 1977.  People playing frisbee on the lawn near the tower, this is classic Park Forest! the logo now and in the 1980’s.

Park Forest logo 2014Shop Park Forest sign

 

Downtown PF by ClockTower

Both of the towers are long gone, this sculpture is now in the approximate place of the clock tower.

Park Forest sculpture

This view is taken from the left side of the top picture, looking across.  On the right used to be a Marshall Fields.  The Marshall Fields building has since been torn down, this was my last photo pf the building. There is now a veteran’s memorial in the center of the picture.

Former Clock Tower view 2014

There are now two murals downtown.   This one is on the other side of the building on the left in above photo.  It is outside the building now occupied by the Tall Grass Arts Association (that used to be a Kresge’s). The second one is close to my Forest  Blvd. court.

Tall Grass Arts Association Building

 

Park Forest mural

Our visit is nearly over. Please be sure to visit the Park Forest 1950’s Museum, sponsored by the Park Forest Historical Society. It was not open the day we visited unfortunately 😦   The address WAS 141 Forest Blvd.  In 2016 it is at 227 Monee Road, inside St. Mary’s Catholic Church.Park Forest 1950's Museum

Right before leaving town, we stop by Thorn Creek Nature Preserve.  My Girl Scout troop went there a lot, a great day in a forest.

Thorn Creek Nature CenterThorn Creek Nature Center plaque

Another great attraction to visit is the new Rail Fan Park, opened July 28 of 2013. There is a viewing platform with a great view of a rail “clover leaf”, the only such rail juncture visible by the public.

Rail Cloverleaf

 

Rail Fan Park in Park Forest

We made a full circle, not far from here is where we began our tour.  It was great coming back home to my hometown.

 

Richland Center- Purple Heart Memorial City


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We got going shortly before sunrise to maximize the daylight available. Richland Center is in the “Driftless Area” of Wisconsin, untouched by the glacier.  As a result, the town is nestled in a valley with large beautiful hills surrounding it.  There was more fall color by then, and it was our last adventure of the year in the 70’s.  Richland Center earned the distinctive name “Purple Heart Memorial City” in 2002 and has a yearly ceremony honoring those soldiers.  It was also the birthplace of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Our first stop was the restored depot and Chamber of Commerce to learn where to find everything.  Sherry Klatt and Bev Laue were ready to assist and provided us with all the info we needed on the town and county. They tell us Richland Center would welcome more new businesses in the area. Thanks so much!

Richland Center Depot

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We also took a look at the caboose behind the depot.

Richland Center caboose

After that we explored downtown, the most distinctive building  was designed by native Frank Lloyd Wright . It was the A.D. German Warehouse.  It has been vacant for many years. It has just been bought recently and is being renovated.

A.D. German Warehouse in Richland Center

The beautiful courthouse downtown.

Richland Center courthouse

If you need some remodeling done, Owners Travis and Andrea Wertz can help you, Wertz Floor and Home is at the Edward’s Block building . www.wertzfloorandhome.com 

Edwards Block Building

Former First National Band building, now a BMO.

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For a good book and wine, stop by Ocooch Books and Libations.

Ocooch Books & Libations

The Brewer Library is another great place to check out a book. There you can also visit the History Room to learn more about Richland Center and county.

Brewer Library in Richland Center

It was time for lunch!  We went to a great place on 212 North Main St. called Gables. Gables closed 6-25-14.  Good news, it is re-opening under new ownership March 16, 2016 with a new menu.

Gables Restaurant in Richland Center

After lunch it was time for a hike on nearby Miner Hill, which overlooks the city.

Miner Hill

To get there, go to the east end of Court St, park on the side of the road in front of the trail, Not this circle at the end of the street, but the roadside on the right looking down the hill.Miner Hill parking

The view of the city below was breathtaking! Center-left is the courthouse.

Downtown Richland Center from Miner Hill

You could also see the warehouse roof from here. The noise I heard from below was someone doing work on the roof!

A.G. German Warehouse roof

Close up view.

working on roof of Miner Hill

It was time to come down from the hill and view the Purple Heart Memorial before going home.  The sight of all the flags and the beautiful monument is a fine tribute to soldiers of all the branches of military.

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Richland Center is the Wright place to come for many activities for folks of all ages.

Pardeeville – City of Lakes


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Pardeeville is located in Columbia County, three miles north of Wyocena and home of their famous Watermelon Festival.  The village was founded by Yates Ashley and John S. Pardee. It was incorporated as a village in 1899. The village has two large lakes, Spring and Park Lake, so plenty of water recreation.

Pardeeville Sign

The downtown has several historic buildings and even a water tower like the one in Oregon

Pardeeville water tower

Here is a mural.

Pardeeville mural

One of their most impressive structures is the Angie Williams Cox Library. These plaques are affixed to the outside of the building.  It also has a beautiful courtyard and clock to mind your time while you read your book!

Angie Williams Cox Library

Angie Williams Cox library historic marker

Angie Cox plaque

Angie Cox Library courtyard

Another historic building is the former Belmont Hotel, now the Myrtle Lintner museum.

Myrtle Lintner Spear Museum

Pardeeville Water Sports will help you make the most of your visit enjoying the lakes. If you like camping,  Indian Trails Campground has lots of activities.

Pardeeville Watersports

If you are hungry, the On the Way Cafe has delicious food.

On the Way Cafe in Pardeeville

Labor Day weekend the popular Car and Truck show takes place.  The next Saturday after that is the Watermelon Festival.

Stop by Pardeeville, it’s a fun place with plenty of things to do!