Blue Island Historical Society

Blue Island Historical Society Become a member today or join our e-mailing list for event updates! www.blueislandhistoricalsociety.com Located in the 134-year-old BIHS/Albee House at 13018 Maple Avenue, BIHS sponsors events and presentations throughout the year.
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Become a member! Download form at http://bit.ly/BIHSMembership

Mission: To bring together people interested in history, and especially in the history of Blue Island. Understanding the history of our community is basic to our democratic way of life, gives us a better understanding of our state and nation, and promotes a better appreciation of our American heritage.

Operating as usual

BIHS made the Daily Southtown! Check out this article on our Virtual House Walk: https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/...
12/27/2020
Blue Island House Walk moves online, offers video tours of historic homes

BIHS made the Daily Southtown! Check out this article on our Virtual House Walk:

https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/daily-southtown/ct-sta-blue-island-house-walk-st-1228-20201227-vd327uwzcjbxpmum4czt7jkyji-story.html?outputType=amp&__twitter_impression=true

“The House Walk is by far our biggest event,” said Kevin Brown, executive director of the Blue Island Historical Society. “Hundreds of people come out for it, and it’s been going on since 1979. We inherited a great event and wanted to keep it going.”

Longtime BIHS member Dave Joens recently purchased a handful of our Post Office ornaments on blueislandhistoricalsociety...
12/18/2020

Longtime BIHS member Dave Joens recently purchased a handful of our Post Office ornaments on blueislandhistoricalsociety.com, and shared this story and photo with us:

"My grandfather, who died in 1949 well before I was born, worked at the Blue island Post Office for many years. He and my grandmother lived across Artesian Street from it for even longer. He was working for the Rock Island Railroad and hurt his back, so he just sat on the porch all day. He would look at the postal workers at the post office and say "that looks easy." Finally, my much put out grandmother said to him. "well go over there and apply for a job." He did, he eventually got one and he worked there the rest of his life. This ornament will be a nice way to remember him."

The first image below shows the entire Post Office team in October of 1938 with Dave's grandfather, Albert Joens, standing in the second row, the last man in uniform on the right.

You're looking at the custom design for our reproduction corbels! They aren't quite ready for production yet, but we'll ...
12/08/2020

You're looking at the custom design for our reproduction corbels! They aren't quite ready for production yet, but we'll have 10 corbels ready to install on the front of the Albee House by the spring - stay tuned!

If you'd like to help fund our effort to restore the Albee House - along with other initiatives like our new documentary film projects - please consider becoming a member by registering online: https://blueislandhistoricalsociety.com/become-a-member/

Or, you can make a tax-deductible contribution to BIHS by clicking here: https://blue-island-historical-society.square.site

Views from atop the Klein Grain Elevator in the 1950s - photos courtesy of Bill Klein.The first photo shows Vermont Stre...
12/07/2020

Views from atop the Klein Grain Elevator in the 1950s - photos courtesy of Bill Klein.

The first photo shows Vermont Street heading west toward the Western Avenue intersection - notice the facade of the County Bank on the left (photo 4), the top of the Commercial Block (photo 5) peeks over First National Bank slightly to the right, the top of the old water tower (photo 6) is just left of center, and the top of the offices of the Blue Island Sun-Standard newspaper (photo 7) can be seen to the right.

The second image shows Vermont Street heading east as it crosses the Rock Island tracks.

Restoration in progress at the Henry Klein House:
11/29/2020

Restoration in progress at the Henry Klein House:

It's hard to believe these rooms were nearly demolished down to the studs back in July (check out a few before pictures later in this series), but we finally finished painting the walls this week and are pretty close to fully decked out for Christmas!

We stayed with Benjamin Moore's Adobe Beige for the formal living room - it's been a great fit from the beginning and you'll find it in a few common areas in our house - and went with Sherwin-Williams' Softened Green for the family room. It took a few months to finally settle on that shade of green, but we couldn't be happier with our choice! It's a great compliment to the original paint on our moulding and the woodwork we've been working hard to restore since we moved in nearly a year ago. We still can't believe the paint on that plaster moulding is 120 years old - it looks almost as good as new!

#swcolorlove #SeeTheLove #benjaminmoore #restoration #georgemaher #PrairieSchool #architecture #architecturephotography

We recently received these wonderful additions to our archive from a descendant of Rudy Schreiber - some of our follower...
11/24/2020

We recently received these wonderful additions to our archive from a descendant of Rudy Schreiber - some of our followers may remember Schreiber Hardware that was located at James Street and Western (now Old Western) Avenue, founded by Rudy's family in 1851. These postcards date back to the 1930s.

Preserving these views into Blue Island's past is at the center of everything we do, so if you have any artifacts, pictures, or postcards like these you'd like to donate to our archive, please let us know! Email [email protected] or send us a message for more information.

The intersection of York and Greenwood looking west in June of 1957; the landmark William Weber House can be seen in the...
11/23/2020

The intersection of York and Greenwood looking west in June of 1957; the landmark William Weber House can be seen in the background.

At the time this picture was taken, Dr. R. Wendell Vance and his family lived there, and were only weeks away from moving to Provo, UT. For several decades, this stretch of Greenwood Ave saw several homes built or renovated to accommodate home practices.

Score some points with Santa!Around this time each year, a group of volunteers led by Val Kehoe installs festive holiday...
11/20/2020

Score some points with Santa!

Around this time each year, a group of volunteers led by Val Kehoe installs festive holiday arrangements in planters along Western Avenue. Volunteers are still needed for what's a pretty large undertaking, and the big day is tomorrow!

Many hands make light work, so if you're willing and able, please meet at City Hall at 10 a.m. Sunday, November 22. All volunteers must wear face coverings and proper social distancing will be required.

Our friend (and BIHS member) Tony Rivera has been volunteering his time on the restoration of the Albee House for most o...
11/07/2020

Our friend (and BIHS member) Tony Rivera has been volunteering his time on the restoration of the Albee House for most of this year - he was even out there working with us today!

We happened to be going through some photos that another member, Bill Klein, let us borrow for the purposes of scanning and adding to our archive, when we came across this image: it's the construction of Tony's house on High Street in the 1950s!

The north end of Olde Western Avenue in the 1960s - not long after it was cut off from the north side of the Cal Sag Cha...
11/06/2020

The north end of Olde Western Avenue in the 1960s - not long after it was cut off from the north side of the Cal Sag Channel. Jebens Hardware can be seen on the right.

Speaking of Jebens... The second image shows a recent post from BIHS board member Tim Duckworth and Alex Lehman, proud new owners of that beloved building. We're so happy for our colleague and our friends, and we can't think of better stewards for this Blue Island landmark - congrats, you two!

It was quite a day at the Albee House! Blue Island carpenter Matt Weber helped us install our new first floor windows, a...
10/30/2020

It was quite a day at the Albee House! Blue Island carpenter Matt Weber helped us install our new first floor windows, and we couldn’t be more excited to finally see the front of the house coming together! Next up: more wood siding and trim.

Landmarks Illinois

Today’s finally the day! Our 2 new arch-top windows will be installed soon!
10/30/2020

Today’s finally the day! Our 2 new arch-top windows will be installed soon!

10/28/2020
Calumet Heritage Partnership

We're so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with some very important regional organizations on this film detailing the 2020 Calumet Heritage Area Most Endangered List: Calumet Heritage Partnership, Indiana Landmarks, and Preservation Chicago.

We hope you enjoy the production, but we're even more hopeful that the buildings and places featured in this film end up in the right hands, and put back to good use.

In early 2020, Calumet Heritage Partnership released the first of what will be an annual list of historic places in the Calumet region that are in jeopardy. These significant places included on the Calumet Heritage Area Most Endangered List face numerous, often complex problems including plans for demolition, neglect, obsolete use, structural stability, and owners who don’t have the money to make the repairs or are uncooperative with efforts for preservation. The goal of the list is to bolster advocacy efforts to find solutions and save imperiled landmarks.

In addition to the main inventory of places, the annual list includes a themed category of landmarks that face special challenges – in 2020, we chose to highlight sacred spaces.

We were lucky enough to borrow several photo albums from Hope Gibson and her sister Joyce Moser for our recent documenta...
10/24/2020

We were lucky enough to borrow several photo albums from Hope Gibson and her sister Joyce Moser for our recent documentary on Blue Island's landmark Charles Young House. We used many of the photos they sent in the film, but not all of them! Before sending the photo albums back to Oregon, we decided to scan every photo featuring Blue Island - you can check them out on this post.

Hope and Joyce trace a part of their family tree back to the Keck family - John Klein, seen in the first photo, married Emma Keck in 1894. Emma Keck Klein's sister Sylvia (seen in several photos below) is Hope and Joyce's grandmother. We'd like to take this opportunity to thank Hope and Joyce for contributing such invaluable photographs to the film and our digital archive.

10/24/2020
Calumet Heritage Partnership

From last night’s Calumet Heritage Conference: BIHS Executive Director Kevin Brown screened his film “The Cause of Art” and led a panel discussion on the mural at the center of the film - Blue Island’s “History of the Mexican American Worker.” Joining Kevin were mural artists Ricardo Gonzalez, Erika Valencia, Robert Valadez, along with Jason Berry. Enjoy!

Blue Island Historical Society Executive Director Kevin Brown screened his short documentary "The Cause of Art," detailing the rebirth of Blue Island's History of the Mexican American Worker mural, and led a panel discussion featuring some of the artists and community activists.

Calumet Heritage Partnership
10/22/2020

Calumet Heritage Partnership

Tonight's the final night of our annual Calumet Heritage Conference! CHP Board Vice President (Illinois) and Blue Island Historical Society Executive Director Kevin Brown will screen his film "The Cause of Art," a short documentary on the History of the Mexican American Worker mural in Blue Island, followed by a panel discussion including mural artists and community activists. Conference registrants can tune in on Zoom at 6:30!

Not registered yet? Click here: https://www.calumetheritagearea.org/calumet-heritage-conference.html

Blue Island’s “other” commuter train station - the Illinois Central Depot, seen here in 1900. The IC extended its commut...
10/21/2020

Blue Island’s “other” commuter train station - the Illinois Central Depot, seen here in 1900. The IC extended its commuter service from the Kensington/115th Street station to Blue Island on April 18, 1892.

From John Volp's book "The First Hundred Years: A historical review of Blue Island, Illinois" comes this description of the Illinois Central's importance to the development of our area:

"The Illinois Central has been intimately identified with Chicago’s history for 85 years. It was one of the foremost factors in the development of the Hyde Park-Pullman-Kensington areas. The transportation service provided by this railroad has been at the foundation of the growth of numerous populous suburban communities on Chicago’s great South Side."

See our comment below for a link to Volp's full article from his 1935 publication.

10/21/2020
Blue Island Historical Society

We're looking for a few more houses to feature in our Virtual House Walk film series! Interested in volunteering? Comment, send us a message, or email us at [email protected]

Here's the first full episode! Our first installment of the Virtual House Walk film series explores the history and architecture of Blue Island's landmark Charles Young House. Viewers will also meet the home's new owners - Joe Leamanczyk & Ben Walker - as they tell the story of how they came across this beautiful home, the work they've done so far, and their plans for the future.

Calumet Heritage Partnership's annual Calumet Heritage Conference begins tomorrow morning - featuring the premiere of a ...
10/16/2020

Calumet Heritage Partnership's annual Calumet Heritage Conference begins tomorrow morning - featuring the premiere of a film produced by BIHS Executive Director and CHP Vice President, Kevin Brown. Registration is free!

For more details and to register for this year's conference, see the post below...

Our annual Calumet Heritage Conference begins tomorrow! Due to the pandemic, we're holding this year's conference as a virtual event, with presentations and panel discussions beginning tomorrow and wrapping up next Thursday. For the full schedule and to register (for free!), please visit https://www.calumetheritagearea.org/calumet-heritage-conference.html

Tomorrow kicks off at 10 a.m. with a welcoming address from CHP President Karen Brozynski, followed by our keynote from Dr. Renee Conroy, "How to Think About Ruins: A Philosophical Look at the Transformation of City Methodist Church."

At 11:30 a.m., Indiana Landmarks Director and CHP board member Brad Miller leads us on a virtual couch tour featuring places from our inaugural "Calumet Heritage Area Most Endangered List," released earlier this year.

Sometime in the late 1910s, silent film producer Richard Norman came to Blue Island, and drove around with huge signs in...
10/13/2020

Sometime in the late 1910s, silent film producer Richard Norman came to Blue Island, and drove around with huge signs inviting local talent to audition for a film to be shot almost entirely in town, resulting in a movie cast with Blue Islanders he called "The Wrecker;" a photocopy of the Lyric Theater's program for that production can be seen below.

This was a practice that made Norman somewhat famous - he made more than 40 of these films in other communities around the country, using this same script along with footage of a train wreck he had acquired for the big action scene. After production wrapped, the film would be screened for several weeks at the local movie house, and Norman would move along to the next community of his choosing.

Unfortunately, none of these films made by Norman are known to have survived, as he would turn over the reels to the community following each production.

We're lucky enough to have a large amount of photographs and artifacts not only from Blue Island, but from communities s...
10/11/2020

We're lucky enough to have a large amount of photographs and artifacts not only from Blue Island, but from communities surrounding us - like these images of a Pullman passenger car from 1905, constructed in the nearby Chicago neighborhood of Pullman.

Founded by George Pullman in the 1880 as a company town for his Pullman Palace Car Company, it was annexed by Chicago in 1889.

Historic Pullman Foundation Pullman National Monument, National Park Service

We're ready to continue production on our Virtual House Walk film series, but we need more homes to feature! The only qu...
10/06/2020

We're ready to continue production on our Virtual House Walk film series, but we need more homes to feature! The only qualification - your home must be in Blue Island.

If you're interested in participating, send us a message, leave a comment, or email us at [email protected]

10/02/2020
Virtual House Walk: The Charles Young House

Here's the first full episode! Our first installment of the Virtual House Walk film series explores the history and architecture of Blue Island's landmark Charles Young House. Viewers will also meet the home's new owners - Joe Leamanczyk & Ben Walker - as they tell the story of how they came across this beautiful home, the work they've done so far, and their plans for the future.

Our first Virtual House Walk film featuring the Charles Young House debuts to the public on Friday, October 2!This serie...
09/30/2020

Our first Virtual House Walk film featuring the Charles Young House debuts to the public on Friday, October 2!

This series is made possible thanks to the generous support of our sponsors:

Alderman Fred Bilotto
Alderman William Cazares
Alderman Tom Hawley
Chicago Bungalow Association
James Street Associates
Beggars Pizza

Our first Virtual House Walk film premieres online tonight for BIHS members only! We'll be joined at 7 p.m. via Zoom by ...
09/25/2020

Our first Virtual House Walk film premieres online tonight for BIHS members only! We'll be joined at 7 p.m. via Zoom by the film's participants: new owners of the Charles Young House Joe Leamanczyk and Ben Walker, Blue Island historian Ken Jellema, and great grandson of the home's second owner and Klein-family genealogist - Bill Klein.

If you're a BIHS member and you haven't received an email with instructions to join us, please check your spam/junk folders or email [email protected] for assistance.

Not a BIHS member yet? You can join online here: https://blueislandhistoricalsociety.com/become-a-member/

Address

13018 Maple Ave
Blue Island, IL
60406

Take the Metra to BIHS! All transit info here: http://bit.ly/BITrans

General information

• OUR COLLECTION: Great Blue Island artifacts fill our displays and our home at the Albee House on Maple Avenue • BLUE ISLAND HISTORY: The quaint town was established in 1835 as a way station for Chicago travelers on the historic Vincennes Trail. Many of the first settlers were tavern and general store keepers, blacksmiths and wagoneers. Blue Island's early industry was lodging and livestock trading. By 1858, German settlers had established four breweries in the growing city, and in the 1870s, the Rock Island Railroad marked the beginning of Blue Island's transformation into a trade hub. Blue Island's early 20th century history was dominated by heavy industry-food processing, oil refining, brick making and railroads. In the later half of the century, much of the city's heavy industry was replaced with service and retail businesses. Blue Island is a rich, historic city where friendly people do business, raise families, and display pride in their community. If you have any questions or would like to request information, please email us at [email protected]

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Located in the 141 year-old Albee House at 13018 Maple Avenue, BIHS sponsors events and presentations throughout the year. Become a member! http://blueislandhistoricalsociety.com/become-a-member/

Nearby museums

Comments

1932 - St. Benedict School - 8th Grade Graduation Father Gross, Pastor, center. George Bastian, Mary Belush, June Benger, Leona Besancon, Raymond Besancon, Eugene Cahill, Emelia Chiyda, Evelyn Costello, Francis Cure, Patricia Dannis, Prudence DiNovo, John Ernst, Elizabeth Ernst, John Fiscek, Billy Feason, Leona Gaertner, William Gaertner, Clarence Gerdes, Gerald Gerdes, Loretta Glim, John Intribus, Edward Knorr, Bernadette Kovalesky, Eleanor Kuruzar, James Lally, Mildred Lawrence, Eileen Lusson, Harry Lyons, Marian Maday, Rosemary Malley, Bernard McCanna, Mary Marino, Elizabeth Mueller, Josephine Oleksa, Merrill Peloquin, Veronica Pepping, Doris Remkus, Margaret Roach, Margaret Schroeder, Irene Simkins, Lillian Simkins, Carol Simon, Stella Sitartz, Peter Somkovic, Selma Steinweg, Mildred Stump, Hurbert Tebo, Vivian Vandenberg, Margaret Weiland, Eleanor Wozney,
Blue Island City Directories, June 1897 and 1961
1932 - St. Benedict School - 8th Grade Graduation Father Gross, Pastor, center. George Bastian, Mary Belush, June Benger, Leona Besancon, Raymond Besancon, Eugene Cahill, Emelia Chiyda, Evelyn Costello, Francis Cure, Patricia Dannis, Prudence DiNovo, John Ernst, Elizabeth Ernst, John Fiscek, Billy Feason, Leona Gaertner, William Gaertner, Clarence Gerdes, Gerald Gerdes, Loretta Glim, John Intribus, Edward Knorr, Bernadette Kovalesky, Eleanor Kuruzar, James Lally, Mildred Lawrence, Eileen Lusson, Harry Lyons, Marian Maday, Rosemary Malley, Bernard McCanna, Mary Marino, Elizabeth Mueller, Josephine Oleksa, Merrill Peloquin, Veronica Pepping, Doris Remkus, Margaret Roach, Margaret Schroeder, Irene Simkins, Lillian Simkins, Carol Simon, Stella Sitartz, Peter Somkovic, Selma Steinweg, Mildred Stump, Hurbert Tebo, Vivian Vandenberg, Margaret Weiland, Eleanor Wozney,
1928 - St. Benedict School - Grade 5
While going through the BI Public Library digital archives of Sun Standards I came across this article from June 25, 1991. Do you have any pictures of this unfortunately lost building?
When was the first 4th of July parade in Blue Island, and who organized it?
Any historical information on the look-alike house on 120th Place between Gregory and Irving--2300 block? The houses are on the north side of the street and look like town houses. Who built them and why? Were they for a specific group of people? Any information is appreciated. I have been requesting information for a long time now.
Would your records show the name of the park that used to be where the new ( 1965?)east annex of St. Francis Hospital was built?
I'm dong an article for Newsday about the Great Depression - looking back on that time. How it's different, and any simiiarities, to today. Would like to speak with someone at the historical society, if possible. Or anyone who has thoughts etc. re. this. Claude Solnik [email protected] 516-404-2960
I was born at Saint Francis Hospital (now called Pronger-Smith), on Gregory and York before they built the new hospital on the East side of Gregory (now called Metro-south) ❤️
Eric Petraitis and his brother Adam exploring "the pipe", 1993
The beginning part of my life.