Lake Bluff History Museum

Lake Bluff History Museum The Lake Bluff History Museum preserves and celebrates the history of Lake Bluff, Illinois, a village on Chicago's North Shore whose development, people and issues mirror those of the U.S.A.
The original Vliet Center was founded in 1982 as an adjunct to the Lake Bluff Elementary School District. Elmer Vliet, a long time resident and village historian, donated his extensive collection of local photographs and artifacts to the Center. The purpose of the Center was to provide a place to learn about Lake Bluff's past, and how the history of Lake Bluff represents a microcosm of American history. In 1995 the Vliet Center moved out of the school building and became a self sustaining, volunteer, not-for-profit organization. In 1998 the Village of Lake Bluff, the Public Library, and the Vliet Center formed a public/private partnership to raise funds for an addition to the library. The addition opened on September 21, 2002. The museum was called The Vliet Museum of Lake Bluff History until August 2011, when the name was changed to Lake Bluff History Museum. This change was made to simplify access for individuals seeking information on Lake Bluff History.
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Olympic speed skater Ken Henry is memorialized this week in front of Clockworks.
05/10/2020

Olympic speed skater Ken Henry is memorialized this week in front of Clockworks.

Dr. Donalee Tabern, inventor of the sedative Sodium Pentathol, one of the most widely used anesthetics in the world. #ia...
05/09/2020

Dr. Donalee Tabern, inventor of the sedative Sodium Pentathol, one of the most widely used anesthetics in the world. #iamlakebluffhistory, #lakebluffhistorymuseum, #lakebluffstrong

"I am Lake Bluff History" banners are back up on the village street light posts in downtown Lake Bluff! Thank you to the...
05/08/2020

"I am Lake Bluff History" banners are back up on the village street light posts in downtown Lake Bluff! Thank you to the Village of Lake Bluff crew for the cleverly strategic placement of the banners: notorious adman Draper Daniels in front of the brew pub; speed skater Ken Henry in front of Clockworks; actor David Pasquesi in front of the grandstand gazebo, etc. Here's one of General Douglas MacArthur in front of the Village Green war memorial, where he once made a stop (was forced to make a stop, is more like it). To learn about his visit in Lake Bluff, go to https://lakebluffhistory.org/general-douglas-macarthur/

Lake Bluff History Museum's cover photo
05/04/2020

Lake Bluff History Museum's cover photo

Lake Bluff History Museum
05/04/2020

Lake Bluff History Museum

The Lake Bluff History Museum's spring print newsletter was mailed out last week! It is full of interesting information ...
05/04/2020

The Lake Bluff History Museum's spring print newsletter was mailed out last week! It is full of interesting information about our village -- including a story on why Lake Bluff banned the sale of booze in the village for decades after the U.S. pulled the plug on prohibition.

We love feedback on the stories we are sharing, so please let us know what you think! Comment here or email [email protected].

Cheers!

Lake Bluff school girls dance around the maypole in celebration of May Day circa 1918. What are YOU doing for May Day th...
05/01/2020

Lake Bluff school girls dance around the maypole in celebration of May Day circa 1918. What are YOU doing for May Day this year? It's so lovely outdoors-- can we dance around a may pole at a distance of six feet?

Remember when ...... Firefighters spray the street in the 4th of July Parade of 1975's fire hose competition.
04/24/2020

Remember when ...... Firefighters spray the street in the 4th of July Parade of 1975's fire hose competition.

Sad news about the 2020 Lake Bluff 4th of July parade being cancelled! But let's look at the bright side -- did the earl...
04/23/2020

Sad news about the 2020 Lake Bluff 4th of July parade being cancelled! But let's look at the bright side -- did the early planners ever think their parade tradition would last so long and become so embedded in Lake Bluff's DNA?

Here's a photo from the 1915 Lake Bluff 4th of July Parade.

We'll be posting more images of the parade over the decades over the next days and weeks.

04/22/2020
A world of happiness

While we're all at home, ever wonder about the Lake Bluff Children's Home? For much of the 20th century it was, perhaps, the single most recognizable physical feature of the village. It encompassed an entire bock of Scranton Avenue, and much of its development was funded by local Lake Bluff and Lake Forest benefactors.

This video (which is on lakebluffhistory.org) gives us a peak inside those walls that helped so many babies, children and early teens.

Lake Bluff Orphanage 16 mm film

Lake Bluff History Museum is standing tall with all of the other museums in the world that are closed because of COVID-1...
04/21/2020

Lake Bluff History Museum is standing tall with all of the other museums in the world that are closed because of COVID-19, which is all museums!

#MuseumSunshine

Remember when ... Newman Court was unpaved? These are the Cox children on Newman Ct. in 1949 or 1950--from left, Linda, ...
04/21/2020

Remember when ... Newman Court was unpaved? These are the Cox children on Newman Ct. in 1949 or 1950--from left, Linda, Charles, and Roger Cox. They lived at 350 Newman Ct. Roger remembers Newman was paved only to their house until the stretch south was developed.

Today's sunshine puts us in a beachy mood. Here is a photo from the museum archives of Lake Bluff's beach in the 1940s. ...
04/20/2020

Today's sunshine puts us in a beachy mood. Here is a photo from the museum archives of Lake Bluff's beach in the 1940s. Remember the pier?

The museum is looking to add to our beach collection! Please share photos of Sunrise Beach either in the comments or send to [email protected] ...

Thank you!

Lake Bluff History Museum
04/20/2020

Lake Bluff History Museum

Lake Bluff History Museum's cover photo
04/20/2020

Lake Bluff History Museum's cover photo

Chris Letchinger: One of a Kind
04/18/2020
Chris Letchinger: One of a Kind

Chris Letchinger: One of a Kind

Lake Bluff has lost one of its most memorable villagers, Chris Letchinger, who fought ovarian cancer with courage and humor for two years.

LakeBluffStrong.com Launches to Connect and Inform the CommunityKeeping track of local news can be difficult, especially...
04/15/2020
Your Stories | Mysite

LakeBluffStrong.com Launches to Connect and Inform the Community
Keeping track of local news can be difficult, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a lot of information out there about the corona virus and what it means to daily life, but in Lake Bluff there has been no central landing place for all of the news – until now.

A new website called LakeBluffStrong.com launched today, April 14, just five days after several local people got together and decided this town needs its own news and information portal now more than ever.

The mission of LakeBluffStrong.com is to provide a central website for Bluffers to get local news and information related to COVID-19 and find support to carry on and stay Lake Bluff Strong!

The website and its Facebook and Instagram pages will be frequently updated with timely information from all the Lake Bluff-centric organizations you can think of—Lake Bluff schools, park district, Village Hall, library, history museum, farmers market, open lands, parade committee, and more. We will provide updated COVID-19 news from the Lake County Health Department and Lake County Forest Preserves, and we’ll post stories about local businesses during this very trying time. We also will keep you informed of ways you can participate by volunteering and/or donating to local COVID-19 relief efforts.

And most importantly – we want to hear from our neighbors and friends in Lake Bluff. We hope you use LakeBluffStrong.com and its social media channels to share your stories, find resources, and/or ask questions about COVID-19 in Lake Bluff. There’s a form on the website for sharing stories: https://www.lakebluffstrong.com/your-stories.

Many hands have been involved in creating LakeBluffStrong.com. Website design is thanks to Jillian Chapman and Eric Bailey, who both work for the Lake Bluff Library. Adrienne Fawcett is handling website administration, and Deborah Fischer is managing Social Media. Many thanks to Anne Sorensen and Kathy O'Hara for ongoing inspiration, support, and leadership.
Please visit LakeBluffStrong.com and follow it on Facebook and Instagram.

And one more thing —please share the news of LakeBluffStrong.com with your friends, neighbors and family in Lake Bluff — especially those who are not on social media and would not necessarily see this post.
Stay tuned for more .. and stay in touch! You can reach LakeBluffStrong.com at [email protected].

Visit LakeBlufffStrong.com now and let us know what you think! https://www.lakebluffstrong.com/

Feeling isolated during the shelter-in-place order? Check this page regularly to find updates submitted by neighbors across the community. You can also use the box at left to share what you're up to! Whether it's games with the family, cooking your new creation, working in the garden or anything e...

Lake Bluff History Museum
04/13/2020

Lake Bluff History Museum

Looking for something to do while sheltering in place and maintaining social distance from people outdoors? Don't try th...
04/13/2020

Looking for something to do while sheltering in place and maintaining social distance from people outdoors? Don't try this! Repeat: we are not recommending that you try shimmying up a tree at the lake front! Though that's just what this resident of the Lake Bluff Children's Home did circa 1945 :-)

We stumbled on another old photo of Bill's Food Mart. This is a real treasure! It was taken in 1950 of the interior of B...
04/10/2020

We stumbled on another old photo of Bill's Food Mart. This is a real treasure! It was taken in 1950 of the interior of Bill's Food Mart showing Darlene Hansen, Bill's wife, surrounded by food and drinks. Bill's was located on the north east corner of Scranton and Walnut avenues. It is the oldest commercial building in Lake Bluff and now houses Be Market.

Remembering back to the days (from a few weeks ago to many decades ago) when we used to be able to stand next to one ano...
04/09/2020

Remembering back to the days (from a few weeks ago to many decades ago) when we used to be able to stand next to one another ..... Here's a photo of Lake Bluff Fire Chief Thomas Evert in the 4th of July Parade, 1966. Who are all these smiling faces? Do you recognize anyone?

Say Cheese Lake Bluff! If you are sorting through old photos and find any of Lake Bluff, please share them with the Lake...
04/08/2020

Say Cheese Lake Bluff! If you are sorting through old photos and find any of Lake Bluff, please share them with the Lake Bluff History Museum before you toss or file them away. We love sharing and archiving photos that capture the village at another point in time — downtown, the beach, streetscapes, parks, schools, exterior of homes, etc. We are especially interested in photos from the 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s (but open to earlier and later pics as well). See the example here of Bill and Darlene Hanson, owners of Bill's Food Mart, and their children.

How to get your photos to us during this time of COVID-19 sequestration?

1. You may mail your photo/s to the museum at 127 E. Scranton Avenue, Lake Bluff, IL, 60044. Put "PHOTOS" on the envelope. We can make copies of your photos and return the original to you. We also will accept donations of interesting Lake Bluff photos if don’t want them returned.

2. You may email digital copies of photos to [email protected]

3. If you're not sure if the museum would want your photo, take a screen shot or scan it and share it to on the museum’s page!

The COVID-19 virus threatens even the beach. The park district is asking people to practice social distancing so the bea...
04/05/2020

The COVID-19 virus threatens even the beach. The park district is asking people to practice social distancing so the beach can remain open.

As we shelter in place to stem the spread of COVID-19, there’s never been a better time to work in the garden (if you ar...
04/03/2020

As we shelter in place to stem the spread of COVID-19, there’s never been a better time to work in the garden (if you are so able). But what to plant? How about flowers that are native to Lake Bluff? The Lake Bluff History Museum has in its archives several documents referencing the wildflowers, trees, shrubs – and fairies -- that were here in the village’s early days.

The protection of wildflowers was a heated discussion in the pages of the Lake Bluff Chat newspaper in 1909 and 1910, pitting year-round residents (who wanted perennial flowers to be left to grow) against summer visitors (who apparently liked picking the flowers).

In her editorial in 1909 or 1910 titled “A Rhapsody and a Plea”, Rebecca Farson McKay beseeches the village to protect its lakefront park and preserve its wooded areas so “yet perchance the vagrant fairy folk may dance again as in the olden days.” The native wildflowers that she mentions include swamp cabbage; hepatica; pussytoes; bloodroot; meadow-rue; violet; bell-flowers; trefoil; vetch;, jewel-weed; golden-rod sunflower; gentian; aster; and witch-hazel.

A week later, the Chat’s editor and publisher Miss Isabelle Ross followed up with an editorial scolding people for picking wildflowers in the ravines and bluffs. “If we are not mistaken,” she writes, “there is a village ordinance forbidding the wholescale plucking of wildflowers …”

Ross describes the autumn-blooming gentian as being “blue as is nothing else under the heavens but a baby’s eyes”. She also mentions lady slipper and states: “A year ago these charming flowers were quite plentiful, and how many times did we meet sojourners within our gates who were carrying them away by the armful; perhaps only to drop half of them along the sidewalk….”

In addition to the Lake Bluff Chat, the museum has in its possession several lists of native flowers that were recorded in the 1918 handwritten history of Lake Bluff compiled by 7th and 8th grade students to commemorate the Illinois Centennial.

The first image below is just one of several pages that list Native Flowers as documented by the students. The other image is a screen shots from the Lake Bluff Chat.

If you’re planting a garden today, why not look for native seeds or starter plants? (Tip: the Lake Bluff Public Library has a native seed-sharing program and will mail seeds to your home this month!). Check it out here: http://www.lakeblufflibrary.org/seedlibrary.html?fbclid=IwAR1tfuRCKA2t9RSRM3MhPt0LB6mbEjO724OclIKzou-fjIGeko2gMqX6WeI

Lake Bluff turns 125 in 2020
04/02/2020

Lake Bluff turns 125 in 2020

First and foremost, Lake Bluff 125th Committee would like to express our concern for the safety and health of our community.

Due to the current state of our nation we all recognize that a lot of community events have been cancelled or postponed, including a number LB125 events. We’ve decided to focus our communication with you through social media and on our website. https://lakebluff125.org

If you haven’t given our page a "thumbs up", please do, so you can receive all the latest updates.

We would like to call your attention to three upcoming programs:

- Donate a Brick. As part of the Lake Bluff 125th Anniversary Celebration, a commemorative brick walkway will be dedicated outside of Village Hall in October 2020. Be a part of history and buy a brick to celebrate the Village’s anniversary or a family milestone! Click here for more information and to order. All proceeds help fund Lake Bluff 125th Anniversary events and the Lake Bluff History Museum. Special thanks to Pasquesi Home and Garden for sponsoring this project and to Krugel Cobbles for helping with the installation! https://lakebluff125.org/commemorative-brick-sale/

- 125th Follies. September 18-20. A comedy musical review about living in Lake Bluff. The Centennial Follies in 1995 was a sell-out. Don’t miss this!

- LB125 Birthday Bash. September 26. Lake Bluff’s anniversary party! Food, beverages, games and lots of music. Capped off with a fireworks show!

The Park District closed all the parks last week, and people are taking the orders to stay home and stay out of public s...
04/01/2020

The Park District closed all the parks last week, and people are taking the orders to stay home and stay out of public spaces seriously. Keep the faith, Lake Bluff! We'll get through the COVID-19 threat, and we'll have a big block party when it's over!

Downtown Lake Bluff during COVID-19 on Monday morning at 8:30 a.m., March 30.
03/30/2020

Downtown Lake Bluff during COVID-19 on Monday morning at 8:30 a.m., March 30.

Lake Bluff History Museum's cover photo
03/30/2020

Lake Bluff History Museum's cover photo

The Stearns chimney at Neil & Mary Dahlmann's house once stood in the middle of a home some 70 feet from the bluff. Now ...
03/28/2020
Stearns Chimney Teeters on Bluff's Edge - Lake Bluff History Museum

The Stearns chimney at Neil & Mary Dahlmann's house once stood in the middle of a home some 70 feet from the bluff. Now it is on the edge and could tumble down any day.

The Stearns chimney once stood in the middle of a house some 70 feet from the bluff. Now it is on the edge of the bluff and could tumble down any day.

The museum loves North Shore Distillery, for good reason!
03/24/2020

The museum loves North Shore Distillery, for good reason!

We would like to send a huge THANK YOU to North Shore Distillery (first pic) and 28milevodka (second pic) for donating hand sanitizer. We are extremely grateful and humbled to see our communities coming together to support one another. We are stronger together!

And you thought you had problems sheltering in place: If only this historic Lake Bluff chimney could stay put! Unfortuna...
03/20/2020

And you thought you had problems sheltering in place: If only this historic Lake Bluff chimney could stay put! Unfortunately it is teetering on the edge of oblivion. Read all about it in the museum's column this month in the Lake Forest Leader.

Thank you to Neil and Mary Dahlmann for sharing their chimney's story with the museum. Jill Rosa

Some good news! Today, with everything that is going on and not going on, Lake Bluff Brewing Company is releasing its fa...
03/18/2020

Some good news! Today, with everything that is going on and not going on, Lake Bluff Brewing Company is releasing its fan-favorite beer Swan Island, which the Lake Bluff History Museum helped name! It’s a Blood Orange Belgian Witbier named after an iconic and long-gone piece of village history -- and you can get it to go!

Swan Island was a small island in Artesian Lake, a man-made lake created in 1883 by leaders of the Lake Bluff Camp Meeting Association when the area was a summer resort. The lake covered 10 acres, basically from Artesian Park to the Village Green, and was a popular spot for picnicking, fishing, boating and ice skating. It was fed by an artesian spring and well at the east end of the park. The lake was drained in 1904 when an underpass was built for the new electric trolley line and the dam was demolished.

But Swan Island lives on at Lake Bluff Brewing Company, which brews its beer on site — you can’t get fresher beer anywhere!

During this wild and oft-changing COVID-19 “season”, the brewery is offering curbside delivery, or you can go into the brewery to order. Check out Lake Bluff Brewing Company's page for updates.

03/16/2020

As we are all practicing some sort of social distancing/self-isolation, the museum's thoughts are turning to an earlier time -- the polio outbreak. Do you have memories of the polio outbreak and what it was like in Lake Bluff during that time? Or have you heard stories from your parents/grandparents? Please share them here or email [email protected]. ....

Thank you, and stay safe and healthy and connected!

We hope you all remain healthy during the corona-virus season, but -- should you need to go to a pharmacy,  wouldn't it ...
03/16/2020

We hope you all remain healthy during the corona-virus season, but -- should you need to go to a pharmacy, wouldn't it be nice if we had one right on Scranton Avenue?

For many years pharmacist Graham Munch lived in this building in downtown Lake Bluff, where he operated a pharmacy and ice cream parlor.

In 1958, Mr. Munch sold the business to Howard Willms and donated the building to the village to use as a library. Mr. Munch continued to live in the building, upstairs from the library, until his death.

In 1975, the library moved to a new building, its current digs, at 123 Scranton Avenue, and many villagers showed up to help transport the books across the street!

That's community spirit!

Address

127 E Scranton Ave
Lake Bluff, IL
60044

General information

The museum sponsors a variety of programs and fundraisers that support its mission to "keep Lake Bluff history alive." Among the more well-known programs are the Ghost Walk that takes place every other year before Halloween, House & Garden Walks, the Pink Rabbit Ball and casino. All of these introduce our famous "voices of the past" telling the stories of past residents. Since the Center's founding, well over 300 residents have taken active roles in producing the various community activities sponsored by the museum.

Opening Hours

Monday 13:00 - 16:00
Tuesday 13:00 - 16:00
Wednesday 13:00 - 16:00
Thursday 13:00 - 16:00
Friday 13:00 - 16:00
Saturday 10:00 - 13:00

Telephone

(847) 482-1571

Website

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Sharing Lake Bluff’s Stories

Lake Bluff History Museum is the only history organization fully committed to preserving, sharing and celebrating the history of Lake Bluff, Illinois, a small town with a big story!

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2,977 flags for 9/11
Here are highlights of a video of Lake Bluff brides and grooms— take a look and see if you recognize anyone you know! And if you’d like to see the full video, stop by the museum to see our summer exhibit, “Weddings: A Century of Memories”.
Visit the Lake Bluff History Museum's wedding exhibit where many of our local residents share their wedding memories in Lake Bluff from the 1880's till today. The Ragsdale's Fourth of July wedding story is a Lake Bluff treasure.
Here are highlights of a video of Lake Bluff brides and grooms— take a look and see if you recognize anyone you know! And if you’d like to see the full video, stop by the museum to see our summer exhibit, “Weddings: A Century of Memories”.
The new exhibit at the Lake Bluff History Museum. Gowns from every decade including the war years.
This year's tour is going to be fabulous! See you there!
Our next event: an incredible tour of Crab Tree Farm Arts & Crafts Collection on September 22. Buy your tickets online at lakebluffhistory.org! Or purchase them in the museum.