Community, Organizations, Park Forest

“Step Back into a 1950s Valentines Day” Exhibit at 1950s Park Forest House Museum

Step Back into a 1950s Valentine's Day
Step Back into a 1950s Valentine’s Day. (Park Forest Historical Society)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The 1950s Park Forest House Museum, at 227 Monee Road (inside St. Mary’s Catholic Church), Park Forest, Illinois, invites you to “Step Back into a 1950s Valentines Day,” from February 1 -March 7, 2020, open Wednesday and Saturday, 1 to 3:30 p.m.; other times by appointment.

One room represents a classroom in Forest Boulevard School, which was set up in a row of townhomes. The classroom is decorated for a 1950s Valentines Day party with crepe paper candy baskets, and construction paper heart-shaped Valentine “mailboxes” on each desk. Red honeycomb, puffy hearts, and vintage Valentines are on display throughout the house. Admission is Adults $5; children 12 and under free.  Park in the small lot at the opposite end from the sanctuary and knock on the 2nd to last classroom door next to the museum sign. A guide will tell village history, and social and fashion trends of the era.

Special tours can be arranged by calling Jane Nicoll, 708-481-4252, or Michael Gans, 708-305-3308. Information on the society and museum and email contact is at

Operated by the Park Forest Historical Society, the museum represents an original rental townhome, furnished as it might have been from 1948-1953. Park Forest is the first fully-planned, post-World War II suburb, built to give preference to World War II veterans. It was the subject of William H. Whyte’s, “Organization Man,” and of Gregory Randall’s, “America’s Original GI Town.” The museum began in September 1998 as a two-month temporary exhibit in an original rental townhome.

The museum is a great way to get acquainted with Park Forest Illinois’ unique history. It is a nostalgic trip down Memory Lane for anyone who lived in the 1950s or 1960s. Contents of the house, furnished for a young veteran and his family, include dolls, toys, dollhouses, books, dishes, furniture and clothing from the period. When is the last time you said “Hello” to Howdy Doody?

The Society manages the Park Forest Local History Collection and Archive, with the bulk of the primary resources held at the Archive in St. Mary’s. The Park Forest History File, over 270 files, is available in the museum, along with 77 “OH! Park Forest” Oral History transcripts.

Park Forest incorporated as a Village on February 1, 1949, at the urging of the developers, American Community Builders who still had 15 years of building, but put themselves under the governance of their tenants. Park Forest was home to one of the first two shopping centers in the country, the first to have a Marshall Field’s in a shopping center, and possibly the first to have a movie theater in it. Not much of the original shopping center remains, and Field’s is gone, but the Museum and Archive have photographs of it in its heyday.

The village peacefully integrated in December 1959.

The Park Forest Historical Society is looking for more members and for more volunteers to show the museum and to work on the Park Forest Local History Collection and Archive.