Wilmette Historical Museum

Wilmette Historical Museum The Wilmette Historical Museum is dedicated to exploring, preserving, and sharing Wilmette's history. http://www.wilmettehistory.org/involved.html
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Our Museum is operated by the Wilmette Historical Society, a volunteer organization devoted to promoting local history, and by the Village of Wilmette. Located in the historic Gross Point Village Hall building, we offer exhibits, a research room, and special events and programs in our meeting space. For more information, visit our website at:
http://www.wilmettehistory.com

Interested in membership or volunteer opportunities?

Looking for something to do with your kids on a Teacher Institute Day? All are welcome to come to the museum on Tuesday,...
01/02/2024

Looking for something to do with your kids on a Teacher Institute Day? All are welcome to come to the museum on Tuesday, February 20th for a reading of Jacqueline Briggs Martin’s book Snowflake Bentley, which tells the story of Wilson Bentley (1865-1931), the first known photographer of snowflakes. The museum’s winter scavenger hunt will lead up to this event, but all are welcome to attend, regardless of scavenger hunt participation. The reading will be followed by an assortment of crafts and activities that explore early photography, including a VINTAGE PHOTO BOOTH EXPERIENCE with instantly-downloadable results that is not to be missed! All are welcome to stop by, even if it’s just to grab a treat and take some photos!

This event is free and open to all, but we encourage you to donate to the Museum’s virtual food drive to support the Greater Chicago Food Depository. You can RSVP for this event at wilmettehistory.org and access the virtual food drive at https://myfooddrives.org/fundraiser/5132867. We hope to see you there! ❄

The Museum will be closed Sunday, December 24th through Monday, January 1st for the holidays. We will resume our normal ...
12/21/2023

The Museum will be closed Sunday, December 24th through Monday, January 1st for the holidays. We will resume our normal hours starting on Tuesday, January 2nd. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

We hope you are all well and staying warm this week! Enjoy this   photo of a Wilmette beach in the winter, taken by loca...
12/19/2023

We hope you are all well and staying warm this week! Enjoy this photo of a Wilmette beach in the winter, taken by local photographer Thomas Slater Gillette in 1904. You can see Gillette's signature in the lower right hand corner.

The Great Snowflake Search has begun! Pick up a copy of the scavenger hunt booklet at the Wilmette Historical Museum or ...
12/12/2023

The Great Snowflake Search has begun! Pick up a copy of the scavenger hunt booklet at the Wilmette Historical Museum or the Youth Services department at the Wilmette Public Library, or you can download them off of the event page at wilmettehistory.org.

Scavenger hunt winners can enter a raffle to win a copy of the book "Snowflake Bentley" and win coupons for a free cookie at the Buck Russell’s bakery! Learn more at wilmettehistory.org. Happy searching! ❄❄❄❄❄

Join us at the museum on Sunday, January 21st, 2024 as we welcome Richard Cahan to discuss his book, “Lost in America: P...
12/05/2023

Join us at the museum on Sunday, January 21st, 2024 as we welcome Richard Cahan to discuss his book, “Lost in America: Photographing the Last Days of Our Architectural Treasures”.

The book elaborates upon a wide array of historic structures that were saved on film by a group of photographers working for a government agency that dates back to the Works Progress Administration (WPA) of the 1930s.

The lecture will be preceded by a brief meeting of the Wilmette Historical Society. This event is free and open to all. Guests can RSVP to the event at wilmettehistory.org, and walk-in guests will also be welcome on the day of the event. We hope to see you there!

THIS SUNDAY (12/3), the museum will welcome speaker and film expert Kelli Marshall from Chicago Movie Tours to talk abou...
11/28/2023

THIS SUNDAY (12/3), the museum will welcome speaker and film expert Kelli Marshall from Chicago Movie Tours to talk about three beloved Chicago-set holiday classics and their relationship to social class!

You can register and purchase event tickets at wilmettehistory.org. Walk-ins will also be welcome on the day of the event. We hope to see you there!

Pictured: Stills from Home Alone (1990), While You Were Sleeping (1995), and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989).

The museum will be closed Thursday, November 23rd through Sunday, November 26th for the holiday weekend. We will resume ...
11/22/2023

The museum will be closed Thursday, November 23rd through Sunday, November 26th for the holiday weekend. We will resume our usual hours starting on Monday, November 27th. We wish a safe and happy Thanksgiving to all!

If you enjoyed participating in past Wilmette Historical Museum scavenger hunts, we have great news for you! Starting on...
11/21/2023

If you enjoyed participating in past Wilmette Historical Museum scavenger hunts, we have great news for you! Starting on Sunday, December 3rd and lasting through February 15th, 2024, the museum will be running THE GREAT SNOWFLAKE SEARCH, a winter scavenger hunt for local children and families to get us through the dark and cold months!

Have you ever heard of Snowflake Bentley? He was the first known person to photograph snowflakes and prove that no two are exactly alike. Mr. Bentley needs more snowflakes to photograph. Join our scavenger hunt to find them! Head out with your family and enjoy some history and embark on a fun search around Wilmette to help Mr. Bentley.

Starting on December 3rd, kids aged 13 and younger can pick up a free scavenger hunt board at the Wilmette Historical Museum or the Youth Services Department at the Wilmette Public Library to get started. Game boards will also be available to download on the museum website after the scavenger hunt has begun.

Scavenger hunt participants can win a coupon for a free treat at Buck Russell’s, as well as enter into a raffle to win a copy of Jacqueline Briggs Martin’s book "Snowflake Bentley"! Learn more at wilmettehistory.org. Happy searching!

Pictured: Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley with his camera and three of his famous snowflake photographs.

Already overwhelmed by holiday gift shopping? Looking for a unique and memorable gift for a loved one? Look no further! ...
11/15/2023

Already overwhelmed by holiday gift shopping? Looking for a unique and memorable gift for a loved one? Look no further! Check out our refreshed museum gift shop, complete with re-stocked ornaments, books, mugs, teddy bears, and more! Visit https://wilmettehistory.org/shop/ to learn more!

November is Native American Heritage Month! We at the Wilmette Historical Museum honor the stewards of the land on which...
11/14/2023

November is Native American Heritage Month! We at the Wilmette Historical Museum honor the stewards of the land on which our building and our village rest, as well as their descendants. Wilmette was founded on native land belonging to the Council of Three Fires, consisting of the Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Odawa people. Learn more about how you can celebrate Native American Heritage Month this November and pay tribute to their rich ancestry and traditions at https://www.nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/index.html

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing more resources and local opportunities to celebrate Native American Heritage Month!

Pictured: Ouilmette descendants Sharon Hoogstraten and Ryley Hoogstraten at the dedication of the new Ouilmette Family Plaque at Gillson Park, November 2022.

132 years ago, in November of 1891, sisters Anna and Ida Law invited a group of about 20 Wilmette women to their home at...
11/07/2023

132 years ago, in November of 1891, sisters Anna and Ida Law invited a group of about 20 Wilmette women to their home at the corner of Twelfth Street and Forest Avenue to discuss literature and culture. This group was the beginning of what would become the Woman’s Club of Wilmette.

To learn more about the Woman’s Club in its past and present endeavors, check out our online exhibit on the topic, created by one of the museum’s 2023 Helen N. Morrow interns, Caitlyn Mulligan! You can find the exhibit at https://wilmettehistory.org/online-exhibits/womans-club-of-wilmette/.

Photo 1: First club house of the Woman’s Club, 1920.

Photo 2: Ida Law, ca. 1885.

Interested in local historic preservation? Join landscape historian Julia Bachrach and Malcolm Cairns, FASLA, a retired ...
11/01/2023

Interested in local historic preservation? Join landscape historian Julia Bachrach and Malcolm Cairns, FASLA, a retired Ball State University professor, as they formally nominate Gillson Park and Wilmette Harbor to the National Register of Historic Places in a virtual program on November 2 from noon to 1 P.M.

This program comes from Preservation Snapshots, one of Landmark Illinois’ longest running educational programs. Learn more about the virtual program and register at https://www.landmarks.org/events/preservation-snapshots-lectures/.

Pictured: A scene in Ouilmette Park (which later became a part of Gillson Park) north of Lake Avenue on the lakefront, ca. 1916.

This morning’s snow flurry is just a reminder that the holiday season is right around the corner! ❄️ Make sure to you ma...
10/31/2023

This morning’s snow flurry is just a reminder that the holiday season is right around the corner! ❄️ Make sure to you mark your calendars for Sunday, December 3rd to come to the museum and learn about some of your favorite Chicago-set holiday films!

Speaker and film expert Kelli Marshall will lead a lecture and conversation about three holiday films that are set in Chicago and how they relate to social class. Discussed movies will include Home Alone (1990), While You Were Sleeping (1995), and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989.) Attendees can register and purchase tickets on the event page (https://wilmettehistory.org/event/lecture-chicago-movie-tours-with-kelli-marshall/). We hope to see you there!

On Thursday, November 2nd at 7:00 P.M., the Kenilworth Union Church’s Racial Justice Committee will be hosting a screeni...
10/24/2023

On Thursday, November 2nd at 7:00 P.M., the Kenilworth Union Church’s Racial Justice Committee will be hosting a screening of Bruce Orenstein’s documentary entitled “The Color Tax”, which is part 3 of his 5-part series “The Shame of Chicago.” This series elaborates upon the contrast between the rapid expansion of white families that benefited from federal policies, and Black families who could not secure mortgages, and who stood to lose everything with a single missed payment.

The 40-minute documentary screening will be followed by a Q&A with producer and director Bruce Orenstein and Dr. Clinton Boyd, Executive Director of “Fathers, Families, and Healthy Communities.” This event is free and open to the public. You can learn more and register here: https://kuc.org/event/shame-of-chicago-the-color-tax/

Make sure to mark your calendars for the museum’s Halloween Hoopla, which is coming up THIS SUNDAY (10/22) from 1:00 to ...
10/17/2023

Make sure to mark your calendars for the museum’s Halloween Hoopla, which is coming up THIS SUNDAY (10/22) from 1:00 to 3:00 P.M.!

Come on over to enjoy some treats, embark on a scavenger hunt to learn more about the history of Halloween, win cool prizes, take your photo inside our decorated jail cell, and more!

Tickets for this event are $5/family and FREE to members! You can register for the event at https://wilmettehistory.org/event/halloween-fun/ or you can show up on the day of the event as well.

We will see you on Sunday, Wilmette! 🎃🍁🍭

Pictured: Beth Iams (in a 1950s costume) and Majken Textor (as Scarlett O'Hara) in the Halloween parade at Harper school, 1987.

Looking for a chance to “test drive” your Halloween costumes and enjoy some family-friendly fun? We’ve got the event for...
10/10/2023

Looking for a chance to “test drive” your Halloween costumes and enjoy some family-friendly fun? We’ve got the event for you!

FREE for members, $5/family for non-members!

The museum’s “Halloween Hoopla” is coming up soon on Sunday, October 22 from 1:00-3:00 P.M.! Come and decorate your own trick-or-treating bucket, complete a scavenger hunt, win prizes, and more! You can register and purchase tickets by following this link: https://wilmettehistory.org/event/halloween-fun/

Tickets will also be available for purchase at the door on the day of the event. We hope to see you there!

OTD in 1903: The Chicago Tribune printed Alma Severson’s photograph, one day after publishing a front-page article about...
10/09/2023

OTD in 1903: The Chicago Tribune printed Alma Severson’s photograph, one day after publishing a front-page article about her dramatic objection to a young man’s unwanted public attentions. To learn more about the Tribune’s laudatory coverage of Severson and the broader story of mashers, the women who whipped them and the press they received, see this month’s Museum e-news. If you don’t receive our monthly e-news, click the link in the bio and scroll to the bottom of our homepage to subscribe!

And just like that, October is upon us! Enjoy this   photo from the early 1960s of Dave Schneider in front of a wagon-lo...
10/03/2023

And just like that, October is upon us! Enjoy this photo from the early 1960s of Dave Schneider in front of a wagon-load of pumpkins. The Schneider family farm was located at Old Glenview Road and Hibbard Road. The Schneiders also ran a farm stand on the property.

Note the Mangel's logo on the back of the wagon -- this was a popular florist and fruit stand on Skokie Boulevard that hosted fun seasonal and holiday events throughout the year. 🎃🍁

In addition to Auto Historica XIX, the month of September saw the introduction of two new mini-exhibits! In the museum f...
09/27/2023

In addition to Auto Historica XIX, the month of September saw the introduction of two new mini-exhibits! In the museum foyer, we have a display of local Halloween images and objects. At Village Hall, there is a new exhibit upstairs all about the history of Wilmette’s (and Gross Point’s) Village Halls. Whether you’re downtown or up on Ridge Road, come check us out!

Thank you to everyone who attended and/or participated in Auto Historica XIX: Muscle Memories on Sunday! The sun was shi...
09/26/2023

Thank you to everyone who attended and/or participated in Auto Historica XIX: Muscle Memories on Sunday! The sun was shining and a wonderful time was had by all. We will see you next year for more vintage cars!

We are back with another unidentified photograph from the museum collections! This regal lady is sporting what was refer...
09/20/2023

We are back with another unidentified photograph from the museum collections! This regal lady is sporting what was referred to as a “duster” hair style, which incorporated pieces of false hair to add volume to the look. The subject’s clothing and hair style lead us to believe that this photo was likely taken circa 1906. The photography studio named below the photo, A.M. Rothschild & Co., was located at State and Van Buren in downtown Chicago. If this looks like an ancestor of yours or just a familiar face, feel free to chime off in the comments and let us know! 🔎🧐

The museum’s vintage car show, “Auto Historica XIX: Muscle Memories,” is coming up soon on Sunday, September 24th! This ...
09/12/2023

The museum’s vintage car show, “Auto Historica XIX: Muscle Memories,” is coming up soon on Sunday, September 24th! This year’s theme is muscle cars of the late 1960s through the 1970s.

The muscle car is an iconic American automobile. Though the style has roots in the 1950’s, the mid-60s through the early ‘70s were the pinnacle of what became known as muscle cars.

While the term “muscle car” has no rigid definition, these vehicles are characterized as high-performance cars with large, powerful engines installed into moderately light, mid-size, affordable, two-door coupes. These vehicles are best known for their straight-line acceleration (i.e. drag racing) as compared to the all-around handling and quickness of sports cars.

Come and see some muscle cars for yourself at Auto Historica XIX! You can find more information about the event at wilmettehistory.org.

Pictured: Prototype sketch for the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The Wilmette Block Party is coming up on Saturday, September 9th from noon to 10:00! Take advantage of this fun, family-...
09/05/2023

The Wilmette Block Party is coming up on Saturday, September 9th from noon to 10:00! Take advantage of this fun, family-friendly community event and usher in the fall with other Wilmettians! The Museum will have a table in the Kids Zone from noon to 4:00 P.M., so be sure to pop by and interact with some of our artifacts, play some old-fashioned games, and even win some prizes!

Fall will soon be upon us, Wilmette, and with it abounding seasonal activities! We hope that families with children 10 a...
08/29/2023

Fall will soon be upon us, Wilmette, and with it abounding seasonal activities! We hope that families with children 10 and under will mark their calendars and join us on Sunday, October 22nd for Halloween Hoopla at the museum!

Put on your costumes for a trial run before the holiday and join us for some not-so-scary Halloween fun! Families are welcome to come in their family-friendly costumes (no props or weapons, please) to enjoy fun crafts and games, embark on a scavenger hunt to win prizes, snack on sweet treats, and learn more about the history of Halloween. Find out more and purchase tickets on the event page at https://wilmettehistory.org/event/halloween-fun/

We hope to see you there! 🎃

Back to school already?! We wish all of the teachers, staff, administrators, and students out there a great return to sc...
08/23/2023

Back to school already?! We wish all of the teachers, staff, administrators, and students out there a great return to school for the academic year. Enjoy this photo of a group of students on the swing set at Highcrest School in 1948, donated by Mary and Martha Jacobson. Mary can be seen standing on the far left in the second row.

Last week, the Newberry Library announced that it will soon finish acquiring a collection of documents and photos relate...
08/22/2023

Last week, the Newberry Library announced that it will soon finish acquiring a collection of documents and photos related to the infamous Eastland Disaster of 1915. You can read more about the acquisition here: https://www.newberry.org/news/newberry-to-complete-acquisition-of-eastland-disaster-collection

Did you know that after this tragedy, the vessel was purchased for the U.S. Navy in 1917, rebuilt, and re-named the U.S.S. Wilmette? During World War II, the U.S.S. Wilmette served as a training ship based at Navy Pier in Chicago. You can find out more by checking out the museum’s mini-exhibit on the U.S.S. Wilmette on the first floor!

Pictured: The U.S.S. Wilmette on Lake Michigan, ca. 1939.

Come one, come all to the museum’s annual vintage car show! This year's theme, Muscle Memories, will showcase muscle car...
08/15/2023

Come one, come all to the museum’s annual vintage car show! This year's theme, Muscle Memories, will showcase muscle cars of the 1960s through the early 1970s. At this free and family-friendly event, visitors will have the chance to spend the afternoon at the Wilmette Historical Museum checking out the vehicles and chatting with the owners. Participation in Auto Historica XIX (i.e. bringing a car to display) is by formal invitation only. Thank you to Double Clutch Brewing Company, J Reeme & Associate Insurance Agency, and Wilmette Auto Body for sponsoring this event! Find more details by visiting wilmettehistory.org, or by calling (847)-853-7666. We hope to see you there!

Consecrated in 1845, the St. Joseph Cemetery at Ridge and Lake is one of the oldest Catholic cemeteries still in existen...
08/08/2023

Consecrated in 1845, the St. Joseph Cemetery at Ridge and Lake is one of the oldest Catholic cemeteries still in existence in the Chicagoland area. It was created as a churchyard burial ground for St. Joseph Church, which was founded as a mission in 1843. According to available church records, the first burials here were in February 1846. Burials continue to the present day.

Some years ago, the museum staff conducted an in-depth study of the St. Joseph Cemetery, documenting each of the grave stones and compiling information about those who are buried there, as well as the St. Joseph parish in general. You can learn more about this fascinating historic cemetery in our research room, and you can also pick up a copy of our self-guided walking tour of the cemetery at the museum or download it from the "Online Publications" page at wilmettehistory.org!

Pictured: A view of St. Joseph Cemetery, ca. 1897.

There is still time to track down Mr. Loutsch’s pigs for the museum’s summer scavenger hunt, which ends on Sunday, Augus...
07/30/2023

There is still time to track down Mr. Loutsch’s pigs for the museum’s summer scavenger hunt, which ends on Sunday, August 13th! You can pick up a booklet for the activity at the museum, in the Youth & Family Services center at the Wilmette Public Library, or by downloading a copy on the event page at wilmettehistory.org.

If you collect at least 10 signatures/stamps/stickers, bring your booklet to the Wilmette Historical Museum to receive a free ice cream cone coupon generously donated by Homer’s Ice Cream.

If you collect 15 or more signatures/stamps/stickers, you will receive an ice cream coupon, along with a free small pizza coupon generously donated by Lou Malnati’s. You will also get to enter into a raffle with prizes available from Heroines & Heroes, Wilmette Bicycle & Sport Shop, and the Wilmette Historical Museum. Raffle winners will be notified after the scavenger hunt has concluded in August. Thank you to all who have participated in this year's scavenger hunt! 🔎🐷

Momentary distraction by old advertisements is one of the (usually pleasant) side effects of researching the Wilmette Li...
07/18/2023

Momentary distraction by old advertisements is one of the (usually pleasant) side effects of researching the Wilmette Life here at the museum. This ad appeared in the October 13, 1966 issue. Does anyone have memories of shopping for glasses in ‘60s Wilmette? Did you find a pair to fit your personality?

Address

609 Ridge Road
Wilmette, IL
60091

Opening Hours

Monday 1pm - 4:30pm
Tuesday 1pm - 4:30pm
Wednesday 1pm - 4:30pm
Thursday 1pm - 4:30pm
Sunday 1pm - 4:30pm

Telephone

(847) 853-7666

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