Local History: Exploring the Oak Park-River Forest Museum

The Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest operates the Oak Park River Forest Museum to “tell the stories of these unique villages” and act as a public research center.  The museum had a rebirth in 2017.  Originally headquartered in Pleasant Home for 50 years, it is now in a spectacularly well restored 1898 firehouse at 129 Lake Street.  Regular events, permanent and rotating exhibits, archives, and guided tours through the area make this a destination for both locals and visitors.

Regular events and guided tours are always thoughtful, sometime quirky and don’t always take place at the museum.   With “Cheney Mansion: Stories “Behind the Walls of a Remarkable Mansion,” both the museum staff and the Cheney Mansion staff team up to present an evening of wine and Hors d’oeuvres with costumed actors and historical displays.  Or there is the walking tour of “Growing with the Gundersons” through the Gunderson Historic District of Oak Park where they “will, of course, tell the story of how the Gunderson Brothers developed and promoted this neighborhood, but it will also include lesser-known stories, like the house once named the Oak Park Academy of Fine Arts, the controversial temporary homes built to ease the post-World War II housing crisis, why this neighborhood was once called “Fertile Acres,” and more.”  These events and tours change frequently so be sure to check often to see what theses creative minds come up with.

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