Spend a 1950s ‘Staycation’ in Park Forest


Spend a "Staycation" at the Park Forest House Museum. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– With so many folks planning Staycations due to the cost of fuel, you might want to take advantage of a little gem which has existed in your midst for 10 years this September. August 30, 2008 marks the 60th Anniversary of the first residents moving into Park Forest, into rental units just like the one this museum portrays. The Park Forest Historical Society invites you to “Step into the 1950s with us!”

The 1950s Park Forest House Museum is an original rentaltownhome furnished as it might have been from 1948-1953, the first five years of Park Forest. A museum visit is a great way to get acquainted with Park Forest Illinois’unique history as the first fully-planned post-World War II suburb It isanostalgic trip down Memory Lane for anyone who lived in the 1950s or 1960s, or for those interested in that period.Visitors are encouraged to open drawers, cupboard and closets to discover period treasures inside.Contents of the house,furnished as though a young veteran and his family of small children occupy it, include dolls, toys, dollhouses, books, dishes, serving pieces, furniture and clothing from the period.

When is the last time you said, "Hello," to Howdy Doody? One room represents a classroom in the first school, Forest Boulevard School, which wasset up in a row of townhomes.A guide will tell village history, and social and fashion trends of the era. A self-guided tour script is available.A driving tour ofPark Forest can be borrowedwith a $5 deposit.Operated by the Park Forest Historical Society and sponsored by AIMCO and Central Park Townhomes, the museum is open Saturdays from 1-3 p.m., or by appointment; closed in January. Donation is $5 for adults; children 12 and under are free with a paying adult.Contact Jane Nicoll, Museum Director at parkforesthistory1@ yahoo.com, or at 708-481-4252. Learn about the Society and take a virtual tourat www.parkforesthistory.org. Publications and postcards, including,the pictorial history, "Park Forest: Dreams and Challenges," ($20)are available for purchase at the museum.

The 1950s Park Forest House Museum at 141 Forest Blvd at the corner of Forest and Fir, in Park Forest is open Saturdays from 1-3 p.m. Donation is $5 for adults; children 12 and under are free with a paying adult. Opened in September 1998 as a temporary exhibit called, “ The 50th Anniversary House Museum,” this little treasure was put together by the 50th Anniversary Committee, the League of Women Voters of the Park Forest Area, and the Park Forest Historical Society, and was sponsored by ThornCreek Townhomes. It came together so well, it remained open in its original location for 9 years. Last December the 1950s Park Forest House Museum reopened at 141 Forest Blvd, sponsored by Central Park Townhomes, and AIMCO in Rental Area F, just a block from the Park Forest Police Department.

If you have not visited the museum since it re-opened in this new site, you are in for a treat. There are more clothes, dolls, holiday decorations and period toys. The Park Forest Historical Society, which operates the museum, decorates for Christmas, Valentine’s Day (February), Easter, and adds some special Halloween pieces in October.

The museum has been a hit with visitors from 23 states and Norway. It was the subject of an article in the February 3, 2008, Chicago Tribune, “Memories Swell in 1950s house,” where author Joel Hood called it, “…a snapshot of early 1950s Americana….” An article, “Living in the Past,” in the March 2008 AARP Bulletin, which mentioned the society website at www.parkforesthistory.org, brought 360,000 hits to the website and comments from folks all over the country.

Along with a visit to the museum, you can learn more about Park Forest history from the digital project with photographs and oral history transcripts from, “OH! Park Forest,” at “Park Forest: An Illinois Planned Community” which is linked to the society’s web home page, or is at www.ida.illinois.org. There are many more transcripts of the oral history interviews available for circulation through the Adult Services department of the Park Forest Public Library. The Society maintains the Local History Files at the Park Forest Public Library with over 200 folders on specific topics in Park Forest history.

The 60th Anniversary of Park Forest move-ins makes the perfect time to begin learning more about this unique village with a visit to the 1950s Park Forest House Museum, and by reading more about it!