Alexa Rogals/Staff Photographer
Alexa Rogals/Staff Photographer
Forest Park’s new recreation center finally has a name: Roos Recreation Center.
The Park District of Forest Park Board of Commissioners on Monday voted 3-1, with Commissioner Roy Sansone dissenting and Vice President Eric Entler absent, for the name that recreation supervisor Rachell Entler said was already the building’s name in the minds of community members long before this vote.
The Roos Cedar Chest factory had been a mainstay in Forest Park during through the early- to mid-20th century. The factory closed shortly after WWII and the building at 7329 W. Harrison housed a variety of other businesses before being abandoned in the 1990s, but through all of that and until its demolition in 2013, it was still “the Roos building.”
As it turns out, the name has survived even the original building’s demise.
“It kind of just stuck,” Entler said. “Everybody we know of always says, ‘What’s going on at the Roos?’ So it just made sense to name it the Roos Recreation Center.”
The Roos Center will boast 15,000 square feet and house an indoor basketball court, fitness center, walking track and nearby park space. Construction on the center began in August, and Entler said it is on track to open in summer 2018.
- 1918 – Edward Roos builds his E.D. Roos Cedar Chest factory at 7329 Harrison St. Financial backing comes from his Forest Park bank-owning cousins, Albert Roos Jr. and Fred Roos.
- 1928 – The 18,000-square-foot factory becomes a major economic resource in the village, employing 400 people. The company sells “must have” Roos cedar bridal chests all over the U.S. These are now considered valuable antiques.
- 1939-46 – Resource scarcity during WWII causes the U.S. government to restrict manufacturing on “luxury items,” including cedar chests.
- 1943 – Edward Roos dies at age 62.
- 1951 – Roos company is sold and its remaining 150 employees are laid off.
- 1950s-2000s – The building becomes home to Fisher Pen Company, Castle Soap Co., Kirk’s Soap Company, artists looking for studio space, and a rock ‘n’ roll band that used it for rehearsals. None of these remain for long.
- 2005 – Developer Alex Troyanovsky begins converting the building into 70 condo lofts and 28 townhomes using a $15 million construction loan.
- 2009 – Troyanovsky runs out of money and the building reverts to Amcorp Bank.
- 2010 – Park District of Forest Park passes a referendum to purchase the building, which is valued at $1.3 million.
- 2010-2012 – Amcorp Bank is closed by FDIC. Its assets, including the Roos property, are assumed by BMO Harris. The property is listed as worth $4.5 million.
- May 2013 – The park district acquires the property for $499,000. After three years of sitting empty, it is recommended that the building be demolished.
- June 2013 – A storm causes partial roof collapse and emergency demolition is ordered.
- Aug. 2013 – Demolition begins.
- 2016-2017 – Plans for a two-story recreation center on the site of the old Roos building stood are drawn up and eventually passed by the park board.
- August 2017 – Construction on the new building begins.
- September 2017 – The park district board votes to officially christen the building the Roos Recreation Center.