Howard R. Mohr’s red leather chair from the Illinois Assembly has finally come out of storage.
The Historical Society of Forest Park has the large chair prominently displayed in its new exhibit space at First United Church, 1000 S. Elgin Ave. The museum space opened Saturday with an exhibit called “Forest Park: A Love Story.”
Mohr was Forest Park’s bigger-than-life, long-serving mayor as well as a state senator during the 1970s. He suffered a fatal heart attack at age 55 at his Springfield retirement breakfast on Jan. 12, 1977.
Also on display are historic land-office plat-maps of the village from the turn of the last century, as well as photos and artifacts from the past.
“This is our first chance to really take some of these items out of storage and put them on display,” said Executive Director Diane Hansen Grah.
Photos of Forest Park restaurants in bygone eras are displayed. The society has artifacts from Otto’s, an old-style German restaurant on Washington Boulevard, built in the 1890s. Otto’s burned down in the 1980s. The display includes a waiter’s vest and dishes, rescued after the blaze.
Historic photos of merchants and businesses on Madison Street and Roosevelt Road are displayed. There’s a nose-cone from an Amertorp torpedo, manufactured at the World War II factory where the mall is now located; vintage police badges from the FPPD; and a sign commemorating the WPA mural of Forest Park’s Des Plaines River pleasure boat, the White Fawn.
The village’s grand amusement park, auto racetrack and the Parichy girls professional softball stadium are also documented.
The society has wandered from location to location after being revitalized in 2011 and losing its storage space at the Forest Park Public Library. Shortly, office space will open up in a village-owned apartment building in the 7600 block of Adams Street for research and the society’s document storage.
On opening day, 25 guests visited the exhibit, Hansen Grah said. Guests can purchase copies of the award-winning Des Plaines River Anthology and the game of Forestparkopoly at the exhibit space.
The exhibit space allows the society to apply for grants that are tied to exhibition space, Hansen Grah said. Eventually, the society’s goal is to acquire its own building and a capital fund has been formed for a permanent home, she said.
Starting small, the society will open on Saturdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Admission is $5