LAKE FOREST — Patrons and staff of the Lake Forest Lake Bluff Historical Society’s new home are adjusting to their new space and planning for more when all the work is done.
The historical society moved from its longtime Westminster Avenue location to the former First Church of Christ Scientist facility at 509 East Deerpath Road just east of downtown Lake Forest in mid November.
Located across from Triangle Park near at the intersection of Deerpath and Washington Road, that site also has historic significance, according to Executive Director Janice Hack. She said it once housed the city’s first building.
Currently occupying a single family house on the campus which once served as the church’s Sunday school, the society has plans to have permanent and rotating exhibits in the former church building itself as well as educational programs, according to Hack. The house serves as the research center and offices.
“This is much better space for research,” said Hack. “It’s easy for researchers to come in and it’s all on one floor,” she added referring to the former two-story building which posed challenges for some patrons with its stairs. “We have a lot of valuable resources which are easier to get to.”
Hack said the museum boasts copies of nearly every Lake Forester since the newspaper was started in the 1890s.
“The (Lake Forest) Library’s are digitized,” said Hack. “We have the only originals.” She said there are no gaps after 1925.
Now spending time unpacking boxes and adjusting to the new research space, Hack said eventually she and her staff will turn their attention to turning the former church building into an educational center and museum.
Most of the time when the historical society hosts a program it also has to find space, Hack said. Once the former church building is ready, many of the events can be in one place.
“We’ll be able to hold educational programs there,” said Hack. “We’ll have room for permanent exhibits and rotating ones. It will be easier to share our collection with the community.”
The new facility is also owned by the historical society. Before it made the purchase, it was renting space from the City of Lake Forest. Hack said they heard the church might be looking to sell and closed the deal last year.
Hack spouts morsels of information like Lake Forest having its earliest beginnings with the farming community growing up on the west side of town around St. Patrick’s Church in the 1930s. The east part of the city grew up with the founding of Lake Forest College 20 years later. Lake Bluff was a railroad stop on the Chicago and Northwestern Railway before Lake Forest.
“In a nutshell we celebrate local history,” said Hack. “If you connect people to their history they become committed to each other.”
A variety of people come to do research, according to Hack. Some of them study the architecture of the area like David Adler or Howard Van Doren Shaw planned structures while others look at landscape design.
The historical society is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and by appointment on Fridays, according to Hack.