After more than 100 years, Oak Park’s oldest public building has revealed much of its 1898 roots as work continues to transform the two-story structure at Lake Street and Lombard Avenue into the new home for the Historical Society of Oak Park & River Forest.
The 7,500-square-foot facility at 129 Lake St. was built in 1898 and once housed the old Cicero Fire Co. No. 2 station. Extensive renovations are well underway toward creating a modern flexible, open-floor-plan space for exhibits and programs for a hometown museum that will feature original surfaces and spaces wherever possible.
The project includes removing interior walls, installing new plumbing, sprinkler and electrical systems as well as a geothermal heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. Once completed, the new facility will include a research center offering access to many of the Historical Society’s unique photos, documents and other materials sought by researchers and homeowners.
The Historical Society has been housed for many years on the upper floor of the landmark Pleasant Home, 217 Home Ave., space it has long since outgrown. The new museum building is owned by the Village and is adjacent to a pumping station for the municipal water reservoir under Stevenson Park. The Village leased the facility to the Historical Society for 30 years at $1 per year.
The project is being funded by contributions and pro bono expertise from a wide range of engineering and design professionals. For more information on the project — or to make a donation to this important community undertaking — visit www.oprfhistory.org.