Published Oct 20, 2011
supporters share passion
Board members intrigued by stories of the
past and desire to preserve them for the future
By Pamela Lannom
Shannon Weinberger, who grew
up in an older home, has always been intrigued by old
houses and the stories of people who occupied them long
“When we moved to Hinsdale, I approached the historical society for
history on my house and that’s how I got involved with
the society,” said Weinberger, who now is president of
the Hinsdale Historical Society.
Weinberger, who owns the 1889 Victorian at the corner of Elm and
Walnut streets, soon become interested in another
historic structure in Hinsdale: the home of architect R.
Harold Zook at 327 S. Oak St. The home was slated for
demolition when the historical society got involved,
purchased the house and moved it to Katherine Legge
“I was new to the board when the whole Zook story came out, and I
was like, ‘We can’t let this happen. We have to save
it,’ and the other people were looking at me like, ‘We
just finished this. We can’t do it again.’ ”
The effort to save the Zook home and studio began in 2004 — just
three years after the historical society had taken over
ownership of Immanuel Hall, which also had faced the
wrecking ball. In just a little more than a decade, the
society increased the number of historic buildings it
owns from one to three.
“It’s pretty amazing what a group of passionate people can really
accomplish,” Weinberger said.
And some of the people who are involved in the Hinsdale Historical
Society just might surprise you, she noted.
“It’s not what you would expect when you say ‘historical society’
at all,” Weinberger said. “We’re all very young,
passionate, smart, motivated.”
Cindy Klima, one of the board’s two vice presidents, is motivated
by her desire to preserve the history of the town where
she spent most of her life.
“I grew up in Hinsdale and, for me, it’s the history of the
community and people’s passion about it,” she said.
“Growing up here it was hard to see all the changes to
the community. This was a way to stay connected to that
history. People don’t know it. There are so many new
people here. They have no idea what architectural gems
there are and what rich history is here.”
Preserving buildings like the history museum, Immanuel Hall and the
Zook home help bring that history to life, Klima said.
“It allows us to point to examples, to host events in physical
properties that people can see, feel, touch, experience
the history,” she said. “It just makes the story that
we’re trying to tell tangible.”
Owning three historic buildings does present challenges. The
society has no full-time employees — only three
part-time staff members who help run the history museum,
Immanuel Hall and the Roger and Ruth Anderson
Architecture Center housed there.
“We don’t have an executive director,” Weinberger said. “A group of
volunteers are running and maintaining three historic
properties. I live in one and it’s a lot of work.”
The historical society also is working to get out the message that
the society encompasses all three sites.
“Our struggle is to help everybody understand that the buildings
are all the historical society,” Weinberger said.
“We’re one organization with a variety of venues and programs and
activities,” Klima added.
The society is grateful for the support of the village and the
donors who have funded these projects.
“None of these buildings would have been saved,” Klima said.
Volunteers also have been critical to the society’s success. A new
women’s board formed four years ago to help with
fundraising and awareness.
“It was an evolution of existing volunteers,” Klima said. “It was a
core group of women in the organization who saw a need
to do fundraising and bring awareness to the historical
All the society’s volunteers are dedicated and work very hard,
“It’s an amazing group of people when you think about all we do,”
Three in one
The mission of the Hinsdale Historical Society is to
“collect, preserve and promote the history of Hinsdale
and to foster an awareness and appreciation of its
history and architecture through education, programs,
exhibits and the maintenance of historical resources and
properties in the village.”
These three sites help the society achieve that mission.
15 S. Clay St.
The centennial home that
houses the museum originally was owned by Community
Consolidated Elementary District 181 and located at 213
S. Lincoln St. It was moved to its current location in
1981 after the village made a one-quarter acre park site
available to the society under a long-term lease.
“I know that was a big deal to move it across the tracks, and I
don’t think people realize that it has been moved,”
society board President Shannon Weinberger said. “Really
it’s an outstanding history museum. If you go and travel
along the tracks and look at the other villages, what
they’ve done with their history museums, we’ve really
worked hard to replicate the true interior of an 1874
Cindy Klima, one of the board’s vice presidents, said the museum is
a great place for kids to get involved in the village’s
“There is some fun programming that comes out of the museum that is
very youth-driven,” she said.
The museum also houses the society’s archives, where volunteers
continue to work every week to clip and sort
“It’s always fun to visit the museum on Wednesdays. You walk in and
they’re always in the middle of a ‘Did you know?’
discussion,” Weinberger said.
The museum is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays and
Zook Home and Studio
Katherine Legge Memorial Park
5941 S. County Line Road
Saving the Zook home was
Weinberger’s first project with the historical society,
and the home continues to fascinate her.
“It’s a very well-known house, not just because it was a Zook,” she
said. “Clearly the people who lived there throughout its
history were very involved in the community. It
definitely was an active building, so it’s got a lot of
Being involved in the home’s move was a once-in-a-lifetime
experience, she said.
“It really was an amazing feat that we actually moved it,” she
said. “It was an extremely heavy structure. Just
orchestrating that move took about five to six months.
“I think the neat thing about the Zook and moving it — that event
caused not just Hinsdale but the Chicagoland area to
start talking about Zook and who he is and what he has
The studio, which should be finished this spring, will be used to
house the society’s Zook collection and give Zook
homeowners a place to gather, do research and share
“They are a very open group and they love their homes and they love
to tell the stories of their homes. You won’t meet a
more passionate group of people about a structure,”
The society would like to make the home available for community
use, but it still needs about $1 million worth of work.
302 S. Grant St.
Immanuel Hall is a special
place and an important piece of village history, Klima
“It was a labor of love,” Klima said. “It was reclaimed from the
possibility of destruction, and I think the people who
really worked to make that happen, to save the building,
felt very strongly about the chapel. It’s part of the
neighborhood. It’s a significant piece of our history.”
The carpenter-Gothic style church was built by German immigrant
tradesman in 1900 to house the new Immanuel Evangelical
congregation. The building continued to serve as a
church until 1982, when it was sold to a private party
and became a Montessori School for the next 18 years.
The society got involved in 1999 after the school owners sold the
property to another private party who planned to
demolish the buildings.
The building opened to the public in 2009. Weinberger, who attended
a wedding there this summer, said it is a spectacular
place to hold an event.
“It’s beautiful, and anybody that ever walks in those front doors,
it’s just breath-taking. To have an event there,
especially if you’re in there right at twilight and the
light comes through those windows, it’s just gorgeous,”
A $500,000 donation from the family of Roger and Ruth Anderson
helped establish the Roger and Ruth Anderson
Architecture Center, a long-planned preservation and
construction resources service of the society. It is
located in the lower level of Immanuel Hall.
• Hinsdale Drives ... An
Oktoberfest will take place from noon to 3 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 23, at Katherine Legge Memorial Lodge,
5901 S. County Line Road.
The women’s board is sponsoring the German-inspired fundraiser.
• The voices of
Hinsdale’s past will speak once more as the Hinsdale
History Museum presents its annual walk featuring
members of the Hinsdale Central High School Drama Club
at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at Bronswood Cemetery,
3805 Madison St., Oak Brook. The cost is $5 per person,
$10 per family.
• Height of
Fashion: Baroque and Rococo will be presented at 7:30
p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, at Immanuel Hall.
This is the second of the Hinsdale Historical Society’s three-part
Fashion Matters! series, exploring the origin, evolution
and cultural relevance of western fashion with Efry
Ayala of the College of DuPage’s fashion design and
merchandising program. The cost is $10.
• The Hinsdale
History Museum will feature an exhibit on the Old
Spinning Wheel Restaurant Fridays and Saturdays through
Take a trip back in time and see items from the restaurant, which
was located near York Road and Ogden Avenue from 1935
until the late 1960s. Items include dinner menus, plates
and many photos. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 2
p.m. Admission is free.
Making a Difference is a yearlong partnership
The Hinsdalean and the Hinsdale Historical Society,
which works to collect, preserve and promote the
village’s history and its architecture.