Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society

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Established on Monday, July 28, 1975, by a group of local residents, led by our founders, Denis and Kathie Paluch, who believed their part of Chicago was a place with much to share and celebrate, the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society is today an integral part of the community.

The Society first met at the Rogers Park Library, 6907 N. Clark Street, an especially fitting site since the street was the traditional hub of social and economic activity since back in the 1870s.

A Charter from the State of Illinois as a not-for-profit corporation was granted to the Rogers Park Historical Society on Wednesday, March 17, 1976. Then, on Wednesday, April 27, 1994, the Rogers Park Historical Society officially changed its name to the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society. The Society is organized to operate exclusively for charitable, educational, religious, or scientific purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

During the course of its history, the Society has offered many programs featuring a range of presenters who have spoken on topics relating to our community, city, state, and nation. Since 1985, an annual house tour has been conducted to highlight the unique architecture and dedicated preservation of local residences. We presently offer a lecture series, Second Saturday at the Society, every month. It begins at 10:30 a.m. and is usually over by 12:00 noon. The front page of the website lists what programs are being held.

As the centennial of the annexation of the villages of Rogers Park and West Ridge approached, Society members decided to plan the Society's participation in this historic event. Because Mary Jo Doyle's house wasn't convenient for conducting and planning purposes, an immediate search for office space was initiated. On Saturday, September 28, while attending an event for S.P.A.C.E. (A Special Place for Arts, the Community, and Education) Mary Jo Doyle and then 2-year Board Member, John E. Arcand, were offered desk space so they could have a central place to plan and organize Society events. They accepted the offer and on October 1, 1991, the Society moved into the Art Deco building designed by William C. Presto, an associate of Louis Sullivan, at 6424 N. Western Avenue. Presto also designed the building on the southeast corner of Devon and Western Avenues at 2349 W. Devon Avenue.

In April 1993, the communities of Rogers Park and West Ridge celebrated the 100th Anniversary of their annexation to the City of Chicago. The Centennial began in April 1992, with a parade and a community gathering, “Hands Across Ridge.” Due to the Society’s successes during these two years, the dream of opening a museum became a reality in April 1994 when our Museum and Educational Research Center opened in the 6424 N. Western Avenue location. With the concurrence of the Board of Directors at that time, a fund raising was held and we finally purchased that building in October 1995.

The Society has published its newsletter (The Historian) since Spring 1986. It began as the RPHS Newsletter and maintained that identity until the Winter 1994-1995 issue when it was renamed The Historian. The Historian received the 1997 Award of Merit for publications from the Illinois Association of Museums.

During 2000 we celebrated our 25th Anniversary and published our award-winning historical book entitled, Chicago’s Far North Side, An Illustrated History of Rogers Park and West Ridge. Close to 6,000 copies have been sold and the second book, Neighborhoods Within Neighborhoods, Twentieth Century Life on Chicago’s Far North Side, was published in March 2002. It is in its second printing with almost 3,000 sold. Clearly the story of Rogers Park and West Ridge is still unfolding, with the Society as its storyteller. A third book, The Trains that ran through Rogers Park, came out in 2010. And, a fourth, tentatively titled: Rogers Park through the Eye of Marty Schmidt, is presently in the planning stages.

Our website, http://www.rpwrhs.org has undergone extensive renovation. It contains many new interactive features and multimedia presentations. The new website contains such features as searchable back-issues of the newsletter and house tour booklets. This HistoryWiki. Some of our oral histories will also be available as podcasts.

We have an on-line interactive history question and answer forum where members may exchange information about the history of our two communities. It may be found at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rpwrhs. The Society sold it's long-time residence (13 years) at 6424 N. Western on September 30, 2003. A search for a new home was then initiated. We followed what might be considered a historical precedence and moved into the recently vacated quarters for the 50th Ward Regular Democratic Party. (Our old home at 6424 N. Western was also once occupied by the 50th Ward from about 1940-1970.) So it was that on May 1, 2004, a three-year lease was signed. In July 2004, the Society moved to its second location at 7344 N. Western Avenue. The first open house was conducted on August 22.

We moved to our third and present quarters at 1447 W. Morse Avenue in December 2010. We have a 2-year lease which went into effect on October 15, 2010. It was renewed in 2012. We're still looking for a permanent home.

Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society was one of the featured locations and the North Side coordinator, working with the Chicago Architecture Foundation for openhousechicago 2011, 2012.

Photos

RPWRHS photo L009-0263 shows a photo display at the 7344 N. Western Avenue location being viewed by two unidentified men and Mrs. Stephen Ferguson. No date given.

RPWRHS photo L009-0337 shows (l to r) Dave Miller, Pat Reskey, and Margie Alkon. No location or date information.

RPWRHS photo L009-0524 shows (l to r) two unidentified youths and an older unidentified gentleman. The date is given as April 15, 1994. The occasion is cited as the kick-off for the building fund drive of the Rogers Park Historical Society. No location is given.

RPWRHS photo L009-0526 shows Marty Schmidt narrating a slide show at the building fund drive kickoff. The date given is April 15, 1994. No location is given.

RPWRHS photo S013-0974 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given.

RPWRHS photo S013-0975 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given.

RPWRHS photo S013-0975 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given.

RPWRHS photo S013-0976 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Unidentified apartment building.

RPWRHS photo S013-0977 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given.

RPWRHS photo S013-0978 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Unidentified mother and child.

RPWRHS photo S013-0979 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Unidentified man at table.

RPWRHS photo S013-0980 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Unidentified woman sitting.

RPWRHS photo S013-0981 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Unidentified man playing keyboard.

RPWRHS photo S013-0982 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given.

RPWRHS photo S013-0983 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Three unidentified women seated at table.

RPWRHS photo S013-0984 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Unidentified women setting up food line.

RPWRHS photo S013-0985 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Unidentified woman playing keyboard.

RPWRHS photo S013-0986 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Unidentified bearded man leaning against fence.

RPWRHS photo S013-0987 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Unidentified man playing saw.

RPWRHS photo S013-0988 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Unidentified man playing saw.

RPWRHS photo S013-0989 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Three unidentified women sitting at table next to wood fence.

RPWRHS photo S013-0990 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Two unidentified young girls.

RPWRHS photo S013-0991 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given.

RPWRHS photo S013-0992 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Glenna Eaves sitting on stairs.

RPWRHS photo S013-0993 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given.

RPWRHS photo S013-0994 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given.

RPWRHS photo S013-0995 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Unidentified back yard.

RPWRHS photo S013-0996 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Unidentified back yard.

RPWRHS photo S013-0997 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Unidentified front porch.

RPWRHS photo S013-0998 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Summer Party, August 1997. No location given. Unidentified back yard.

RPWRHS photo S013-1003 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Centennial Celebration, March 12, 1993. Glenna Eaves (left) and unidentified woman (right) showing off centennial t-shirts.

RPWRHS photo S013-1004 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Centennial Celebration, March 12, 1993. Glenna Eaves (left) and unidentified woman (right) showing off centennial t-shirts.

RPWRHS photo S013-1005 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Centennial Celebration, March 12, 1993. Glenna Eaves (left) and unidentified woman (right) showing off centennial t-shirts.

RPWRHS photo S013-1006 shows Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society Centennial Celebration, March 12, 1993. Glenna Eaves (left) and unidentified woman (right) showing off centennial t-shirts.

RPWRHS photo S013-1186 shows Volunteers at Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society, 6424 N. Western Avenue. March 1993.

RPWRHS photo S013-1187 shows Mary Jo Doyle and unidentified volunteer at Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society, 6424 N. Western Avenue. March 1993.

RPWRHS photo S013-1188 shows T shirt display at Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society, 6424 N. Western Avenue. March 1993.