It has often been said that the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical Society (LFLBHS) is our community’s best kept secret. But with a capital campaign entering its final phase and some exciting news to share, staff, board members, and volunteers over at LFLBHS would like to change all that.
Founded in 1972, the LFLBHS has not had a permanent home to call its own until the purchase of 509 E. Deerpath Avenue in 2015. Once a community church with an interior designed by renowned architect Stanley Anderson, the new space is just a stone’s throw away from Lake Forest’s historic Market Square.
“Our new location will be a state-of-the-art history museum and the pride of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff,” explains LFLBHS Executive Director Janice Hack. “The Historical Society has long been a source for historical research and outstanding programs but now we are taking history to a whole new level. Our new permanent home will be a gathering place where the community can come together to celebrate who we are and how we are connected.”
To date, the Historical Society has more than 20,000 artifacts in its collection, including: 10,000 photographic works documenting homes and streetscapes, families and local residents, and schools and community events; more than 5,000 archival collections, such as government and organizational records, blueprints, newspapers, and maps; roughly 2,500 three-dimensional objects, from historic clothing to paintings to archaeological materials; and more than 1,000 biographies, genealogies, architecture books, and more. The Historical Society currently has five staff members including two who oversee the management and preservation of the collection.
“Our dynamic new space will protect our past, and inspire us to see the possibilities of the future,” says Hack. “The former church has been renovated to include a vibrant Education Hall, a space for permanent and rotating exhibits, an expanded Research Center, and dedicated space for the historic collection. It will be the cornerstone of our community and a civic treasure.”
The acquisition of the new space is the result of the organization’s $4 million capital campaign—having already achieved 85 percent of its fundraising goal.
On Friday, February 23 at its annual Trivia Night, the Historical Society will kick off the final public phase of the capital campaign. Everyone from the community is invited to come. The hope is to reach 100 percent of its goal in 2018, securing the future of Historical Society research and programming.
“Now, the Historical Society sits right across the street from Triangle Park where Lake Forest was originally founded,” says Lisa Frey, LFLBHS development director. “Both the museum and research center buildings have just one floor—accessible to everyone from strollers to wheel chairs. Our new Hunter Family Education Hall is a wonderful space to provide programming for residents of all ages.”
The funds raised in the final phase of the capital campaign are ear-marked for the 21st century technology the Historical Society would like to use to tell the community’s stories.
“The museum will serve as a Welcome Center where residents, former residents, and visitors can engage with the extraordinary story of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff,” adds Hack. “A multimedia exhibit will be the highlight of the new Education Hall. The exhibit will have interactive touch screens that will allow visitors to navigate through a historical journey that is customized to their interests. This means that visitors of all ages will be able to take their place in history by sharing their own memories and reminiscences.”
The Historical Society is poised to unveil this permanent exhibit later this year. The permanent exhibit will join an already active research center and busy program schedule, which for 2018, will focus on the Illinois Bicentennial.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the power of history will take its well-deserved place at 509 East Deerpath,” says Hack. “We are excited to invite the public to be part of a defining moment in our community.”
To purchase tickets to Trivia Night on Friday, February 23, or to learn more about the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Historical Society and how you can be part of history, visit lflbhistory.org.