Over the last week, many have commented via Facebook and online at the Forest Park Review website on the fact that Forest Park has lost another of its ‘landmark’ structures. Some have wondered why the Historical Society of Forest Park didn’t do more to try and save the folk art castles on private property at Dunlop and Harvard before they were sledgehammered and tossed in a dumpster. Many people, including the Historical Society, are saddened by the fact that the castles will no longer be visible to the public and will only remain as memories from our childhood. Perhaps we could have predicted that something like this would happen and that the historical society should do more in the future to try and prevent historic structures and buildings from being torn down and discarded. We can’t do this alone. We need the community to assist us. Historic Preservation is a community effort and not just one organization’s ongoing mission.
There is no longer an active Historic Preservation Commission in Forest Park. The commission was made up of local Forest Park residents who met monthly to review historic properties, write local preservation ordinances, and create educational tools to educate the public on the importance of preserving local historic structures, sites, and buildings. The commission was designed to preserve the village’s historic structures and assist the village in nominating structures for local landmark status and educating the public as to the importance of historic preservation.
The Historical Society’s mission is to, “Collect and preserve the rich history of the Forest Park community and to educate the public regarding this unique heritage.” The Historical Society can do this in many different ways including hosting tours, placing historic markers throughout town, and nominating structures and buildings for local landmark status.
Other communities struggle with this issue of preserving history. Forest Park is not alone, but this certainly does not mean that we should not do all that we can to preserve the history we still have left. This should be a public or community-wide effort. The Historical Society would like to invite those persons interested in preserving local history to assist the society in researching and creating a watch list for properties and structures of historic significance by volunteering their time.
Please call Diane Grah at 708-232-3747 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s try to work together in this very important endeavor. Let’s use this most recent event as an example of why our history is important and why it should be preserved.