When Jane Coyne and her husband Mike Coyne moved into their 1935 pre-war Dutch Colonial in Hinsdale, the first room to get a makeover was the kitchen.
“We set out to renovate the kitchen only but ended up updating the design of the rest of the rooms to complement it,” she explains. “Today, our kitchen not only serves as a functional space with all the added conveniences, it’s also a place to gather. Our kitchen island has been the center of many gatherings.”
On Friday, May 8, the Coynes’ stunning gourmet kitchen will be among six others in Hinsdale homes to be featured on the Hinsdale Historical Society’s annual Hinsdale Cooks! Kitchen Walk, a Mother’s Day weekend tradition. This important fundraiser, which draws more than 1,200 people annually, marks its 15th anniversary this year.
The event has since evolved and now offers a first-floor home tour featuring residential innovation that showcases the latest in décor, products, and design ideas.
“The Kitchen Walk started as a way to raise money for the restoration of one of Hinsdale’s historic buildings, Immanuel Hall,” says Emily Van Houtte, longtime Historical Society volunteer, past board member and co-chair of this year’s event. “Hinsdale resident Penny Bohnen and friends founded the walk as a fundraising event for historic preservation. They felt that the kitchen is the heart of the home and people would be interested in different kitchen styles and trends.”
They were right.
Jane says that even during her research about the house in advance of the kitchen walk, she uncovered a letter from a former, longtime owner that documented the importance of that cook space over the decades. The original kitchen from 1935 is believed to have been comprised of two small rooms—a utilitarian space meant for preparing food when most of the gathering happened in the family dining room.
“The owner further noted that the kitchen was first remodeled in the mid- to late-1960s and it was the first renovation they undertook,” she adds. “In the past, kitchens were about functionality and utility. Now it’s about efficiency, convenience, comfort, and a place to gather or even hang out. Now, more than ever, design and aesthetics play an important role too. I think the kitchen is such a focal point in many homes because it naturally draws families together.”
The love of kitchens has drawn people to Hinsdale since the event’s inception in 2005. With a total of 87 homes showcased over the years—ranging from historically significant residences to newer homes that embody architectural elements of modern day—the Hinsdale Historical Society has raised funds to preserve such village landmarks as the Hinsdale History Museum, Immanuel Hall, and the R. Harold Zook Home and Studio.
“We are excited that seven unique and beautiful Hinsdale homes will take part in this year’s walk—representing different architecture and design elements including American Arts and Crafts, Dutch Colonial, and Ranch style,” adds Van Houtte.
In addition to seeing the Coyne family’s kitchen, participants will get to see other parts of their historic home.
“We’ve just completed a major project renovating the entire first floor,” says Jane, explaining that she and her husband are the fifth owners of the property. “When we bought this house in the summer of 2004, we were looking for a house with all the charm of an older home but fully updated. We were really quite lucky to find a home with all the features we wanted. With its traditional layout, it had a full-size living room that opened into a beautiful sunroom and a screened-in porch off a large family room.”
As a board member of the Hinsdale Historical Society for almost nine years, she was happy to say “yes” to share her newly renovated historic home on the 15th anniversary tour.
“Because I know how important the Kitchen Walk is to the Society’s fundraising efforts, being its primary source of funding, I was happy to be involved,” she adds. “It’s always a great day that draws people from around the Chicago area.”
Hinsdale Historical Society’s Hinsdale Cooks! Kitchen Walk is scheduled to take place from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine. To make a donation or to purchase tickets in advance, $55 per person, please visit Hinsdale retailer Yankee Peddler, or visit at kitchen-walk.com. Tickets will also be sold at the homes on the day of the event for $65. Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, the date of this event may change. For the most up-to-date information or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, email [email protected]