It’s official: The “wandering” Historical Society of Forest Park is moving again, this time to village-owned digs in a one-bedroom apartment on the third floor of 7608 Adams St.
The society’s board has moved four times since 2011 in a continuing search for a permanent home. Recently the society moved the collection to old St. Peter’s Church, 500 Hannah Ave.
But the church was sold to a new congregation, Mt. Moriah Baptist Church of Christ, in June. Space issues were squeezing the society collection, which was limited to a single classroom. Larger items were moved by pickup truck to a warehouse space provided by Schauer’s Hardware.
The church’s new owner, Rev. Maurice Streeter, told the Review in September, “The purpose of our purchasing the church was to utilize the property for worship.” He said while he supported the society, he was paying the mortgage and he wanted to use space in the church for his congregation.
Mayor Anthony Calderone has made several offers since 2011 to the historical society to use the village-owned apartment.
Outgoing president Augie Aleksy, who just stepped down, wrote to the mayor finally accepting his offer. Aleksy acknowledged this was the third time the mayor had suggested the apartment.
“Thank you for your third offer,” Aleksy said in the memo to be presented to the village council on Tuesday night after press time. “I think/know this society will make the community proud of its work and development.”
The society asked the village to help remodel the space, which has been empty for some time. The unit currently has electricity and water turned off. Aleksy also requested the village pay all utilities on the space and asked to use the space for a minimum of five years or more, “depending on when and how long it takes us to accumulate the funds for a permanent location,” he wrote.
Aleksy noted the space would be used for office space and storage, but would not be used by the general public. Director Diane Hansen Grah has suggested taking materials to the nearby Forest Park Public Library (7555 Jackson Blvd.) for cataloging by volunteers or to consult with history-hunters doing research on their home.
Until the society has a display space, they will host traveling exhibits in display cases in the basement of village hall, and are looking into displays at the Forest Park Public Library and the Park District Administration Building.
Other permanent locations have been suggested, but have fallen through for the society, which has less than $20,000 in the bank and a membership of fewer than 100 people.
Suggestions have included acquiring the Forest Park Post Office building, 417 Desplaines Ave. (since taken off the market), the burned-out 512 Desplaines two-flat (now demolished) and the American Wilbert Vault Company building 1015 S. Troost Ave. (privately purchased). Long term, the society hopes to possibly partner in some way with the Park District of Forest Park, possibly for space in the site formerly housing the Roos building.