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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published April 19, 2012                                         
 

                                 60 SECONDS

                                          JIM DAVIDSON

 LIVED IN HINSDALE FOR 26 YEARS • SPENT HIS CAREER IN ADVERTISING • IS A NATIVE OF SOUTHERN MICHIGAN • EARNED AN MBA FROM NORTHWESTERN • IS CELEBRATING HIS 48TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY TODAY

   As chair of the recently established facilities committee for the Hinsdale Historical Society, Jim Davidson has quite a task on his hands. In span of five years, the organization went from having one facility — the Hinsdale History Museum — to overseeing three with the purchase of Immanuel Hall in 2001 and the R. Harold Zook Home and Studio in 2005. “It’s possible that organizations like (the society) need that kind of over-scale challenge to renew themselves every 20 to 30 years,” Davidson said. The longtime society supporter was a natural choice to head up the new team. After all, he completely refurbished the 1873 farmhouse on Washington Street he and his wife, Carol, bought. “I painted it, one wall a year for 20 years,” he said with a chuckle. His effort was honored with a Historic Preservation Award the first year they were handed out. It wasn’t until he retired in 2000 that he was able to dedicate time to supporting the society as a volunteer leader and handyman. “I found that was my real hobby instead of golf.” Davidson was initially attracted to the familiar feel of the village when he first moved here in the 1970s. “Hinsdale looks like the town I grew up in,” he said, noting the similar style of homes. “It’s full of Greek Revivals and Italianates.” He said he’s not opposed to teardowns when historic homes are just not practical for modern living. “With many of even the older homes, once you touch them to make them reasonably livable, you run into code situations where you have to rebuild the whole thing.” The couple has since moved to nearby Indian Head Park, where they bought a home “100 years newer, almost to the day.” But the more things change, Davidson hinted, the more they stay the same. “As we’re finding out, (the two houses) were mechanically about the same age.” He joined the society’s board when Immanuel Hall was acquired and has been gratified to see it blossom into a popular meeting and event venue. “With the four furnaces and the fire sprinkler system and the lift and everything else that was required, it was a major effort.” The energies of the facilities committee are largely focused on the Zook home and studio in Katherine Legge Memorial Park. Davidson said that the society will seek an occupancy permit for the studio’s first floor this summer. “ “It’s been sitting on that site for seven years. It’s time to get something done,” he said. “We hope we’ll be able to (finish rehabbing) the second floor by the end of the year so that that space will become available and usable.” The property expansion has rejuvenated the society, Davidson said, and compelled greater accountability in financial stewardship. Helping protect the heritage of the village is a satisfying pursuit, he said, even others may not always appreciate it until they return after time away. “I think it’s very important that a community doesn’t change terribly fast. It has to be allowed to evolve,” he said. “These structures, these settings, the downtown, having those things in place is a very real part of holding your community together.”

— by Ken Knutson

 

  Making a Difference is a yearlong partnership between
The Hinsdalean and the Hinsdale Historical Society, which works to collect, preserve and promote the village’s history and its architecture.

 

 

 

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