Community, Local, Organizations, Park Forest

Park Forest 75th Anniversary Displays at House Museum

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Park Forest Historical Society has begun celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Park Forest with unique displays in the 1950s Park Forest House Museum, 227 Monee Road, Park Forest.  The museum is open Wednesday and Saturday from 1-3:30 p.m. or by appointment on other days and times. Admission is $5 for adults; children 12 & under are admitted free. The museum always tells what life was like in the village from 1948 to 1953, but many more documents are exhibited the following year.

The museum is celebrating its 25th Anniversary, opening on September 13, 1998, as the 50th Anniversary House Museum.  The “Step Back into a 1950s Christmas and Hanukkah” exhibit will open on November 29 through January 3.  The museum is closed in January and reopens in February, decorated for Valentine’s Day.

Enter American Community Builders

Park Forest began in 1946 as a dream held by Carroll F. Sweet, Sr., to build a GI Town that would give preference to returning World War II veterans.  Due to a lack of construction during the Depression and World War II, the veterans and their young families faced a severe housing shortage. Mr. Sweet and builder Nathan Manilow went to Washington, D.C., to ask Philip M. Klutznick to join the plan. Together, they formed American Community Builders.

Jerrold Loebl of Loebl, Schlossman, and Bennett Architects also became business partners. Their firm designed most of Park Forest. Carroll Sweet, Sr. was never a partner but was on the Board of ACB.  His son, Carroll Sweet, Jr., was an assistant to Mr. Klutznick through the village’s first ten years. He helped name Park Forest and many streets. Carroll Sweet, Jr. gave names to roads in the Lincolnwood subdivision. He was central in calling streets for Illinois Medal of Honor recipients. His memoir of that time is for sale at the museum.

Genesis of a Village

On October 28, 1946, Mr. Klutznick announced the imminent creation of Park Forest.  Groundbreaking took place on October 28, 1947.  Construction on the 3010 rental units, the first housing in Park Forest, began on October 28, 1947. The work concluded on October 6, 1949.

The first residents of Park Forest moved into the rental units in Area B off Western Avenue probably on August 30, 1948, though articles exist saying the 27th or 28th.  The families were Ross and Leona Delue, 2689 Western; Manuel and Madeline Kanter, 2695 Western; and William and Jane Heckman, 2693 Western.  The society can find sources designating these families as THE first family because a different developer employee, ACB, greeted each.  Mr. Klutznick, President of ACB, had already moved furniture into his unit. His family moved in a few weeks later.

75th Anniversary Plus Two

November 12 marked the 77th Anniversary of submitting the Plan of Town to the Federal Housing Authority. 

November 27th will be the 75th Anniversary of the Tent Meeting held by developers American Community Builders. The purpose was to poll tenants already in residence and those with signed leases to see whether they wished to incorporate as a village.  Out of the tent meeting began the high level of civic involvement in forming the Village of Park Forest government, schools, churches, and social organizations. The young veterans and their wives started all of these from the ground up, with no older generation to offer advice. 

The builders were also pioneers, encountering and overcoming problems never before tackled. New towns across the U.S. and in Great Britain copied the building innovations employed by the founders.