One of the most interesting and beautiful buildings in Lake Bluff, in my opinion, is the historic Village Hall. First of all, the architect was Webster T. Tomlinson who was the only partner of Frank Lloyd Wright!. In 1905 the Village Hall is built and a time capsule is placed in the cornerstone. [In 1995 at the Centennial Celebration, that time capsule was opened.]
At first, the Administration, Police and Fire Departments as well as the Public Works were housed in this one building. In 1935 The hose tower is removed because it was a hazard and wasn't used anymore. Ironically, in 1995, a fundraising event made it possible to purchase a Centennial Tower which, in effect, restored Village Hall to its original design.
The most interesting tidbit about Village Hall, I feel, is what happened on October 30, 1928. A woman named Elfreda Knaak was found nearly dead in the Village Hall basement beside the boiler. Three days later, she died, but this murder was never solved!
In the late 1970's a major exterior and interior renovation took place. The entrance was moved from the side to the front. Two years later [when the Lake Bluff Home's for Children was razed, the chandeliers were saved and placed in the Village Hall Board Room.
By 1988 , this building was used for just the administrative office of the village and a 2-story addition at the back of the building was done. The Police and Fire Departments as well as Public Works have their own buildings.
During the 1995 Centennial Celebration, The Women's Club donated funds for a Centennial fountain in the landscaping of the Village Hall. In 1997 major remodeling took place in order to conform to the American with Disabilities Act. With all these renovations, the Village Hall was dedicated on July 4 of 1998.
More recently , The Village Hall was designated a local historic landmark.
This landmark building is certainly an interesting piece of Lake Bluff's history.
The Lake Bluff Gazebo is located on the "Village Green". It is not very large, but it is very charming.
It seems to be a focal point in the delightful small downtown. It has become the setting for many community activities.
I saw it once around Christmas and smiled at its simple beauty. It, of course, was decorated and added so much ambience to the holiday season.
The white gazebo stands out in contrast to the tall oak trees on the Village Green. Thus, it's the perfect location for some of these fun community activities:
1. From late June until early October, each Friday morning from 7:00 am. until Noon, it is the location of the FARMER'S MARKET.
2. From late June until the middle of August, it is where the BLUFFINIA CONCERTS ON THE GREEN take place on Sunday nights between 6:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
3. It's the focal point for the assembly of the famous and delightfully "corny" JULY 4TH PARADE.
4. In September each year, there is an ANTIQUES ON THE GREEN that takes place from 9:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
5. In June they have the ANNUAL ARTS FESTIVAL. It features live entertainment [at the Gazebo], and artwork of about 40 artists.
6. Of course, it's always quite festive during the CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS.
This gazebo reminds me of some of the small easter villages. At Christmas, it reminds me of An Elizabethan Christmas
Whenever something is advertised about Lake Bluff, the Gazebo is usually the central photograph or painting.
What I've always loved about Lake Bluff is its proximity to Lake Michigan. It's such a beautiful little town perched atop a bluff that overlooks the lake.
Sunrise Park is atop the bluff, and the beach is nestled at the base of the bluff and is a serene spot to go during the summer. I took these photographs of the park and beach on September 18, 2007, and there were actually a few people in bathing suits on the beach reading books. Of course it was 87 degrees F that day!
The beach is home to the Park District's Learn to Sail Programs and Sailing Camp
Therre are shelters on the beach that are able to be reserved. These shelters [with fireplaces and picnic tables] are at the north and south ends of the beach. Week days and Sundays, the shelters are closed at 10:30 p.m. On Friday and Saturday nights, they stay open until midnight.
The beach is FREE for residents with a beach pass, but non-residents pay $10.00 per person per day. Non-Residents are able to purchase season membership.
There are lots of rules for the beach and the village police department makes regular patrol visits of the beach. They enforce all Park District ordinances. Also, a secrity patrol is on duty from 7:00 p.m. until after the beach closes.
The Sunrise Park [as one can see from the photograph] is filled with huge trees, which makes it a great shady area on hot summer days. There are numerous park benches where one is able to sit and look out on Lake Michigan. There is also a single-lane path for walking.
I spent many days in that park and on that beach.
The Museum is named after Elmer Vliet, a long-time resident & a historian who donated his extensive collection of local photographs & artifacts to the museum. In addition, he made a substantial donation that insures the longevity of this center.
I have fond memories of the Lake Bluff Library. When we lived in Lake Bluff, I often took my daughter Jill there. They have a wonderful Children's Library and Programs for Children. In addition, as a teacher, I would often check out resource materials from this library.
Open: Monday and Thursday: 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday: 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Saturdays: 10:00 a.m.04:00 p.m.
Sundays: 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
The Vliet Museum of Lake Bluff History is located in the J. Howard & Ruth Hendrickson Wood Building adjoining the Lake Bluff Library.
Originally the Vliet Center [1982} was just an adjunct to the Lake Bluff Elementary School District. Then in 1995, it became self sustaining organization. In 1998, the Village of Lake Bluff, the Public Library, and the Vliet Center "formed a public/private partnership to raise funds for an addition to the library [Children's Department] as well as a place for the Vliet Center.
This building opened in September of 2002.
When I visited in September of 2007, I found it to be a beautiful place to display exhibits; a very clean and well organized space; and a place run by friendly, efficient volunteers.
The Museum has news articles, over 1000 photographs and slides, documents, postcards, memorabilia, and maps.
Their permanent displays are:
1. Pictorial history of Lake Bluff's Early Settlers
2. The Camp Meeting
3. The Artist's Colony of the early 1900's
4. The Lake Bluff Children's Home
5. A Century of Architecture
I found all of this exhibits to be fascinating.
The museum also regularly offers special programs and community events in order to "bring history to life".
Ironically, the whole time that I lived in Lake Bluff, I cannot remember even noticing the War Memorial.
However, in September of 2007 when I spent the day in Lake Bluff checking out the architecture, the history, the restaurants, the beach, and the shops, I suddenly notice how quaint and bittersweet the Lake Bluff War Memorial really is.
It's obvious that it was originally built to honor the men/women from WWI. Here is what is engraved on the oldest part of this memorial:
"As a Testimonial To The Valor and Patriotism of its Citizens Who Served In The WORLD'S WAR 1914-1918
This Tablet is Erected By the Village of Lake Bluff"
And then the names of those who served follows.
However, there are also tablets for WWII, Korean War, and Viet Nam Conflict.
On Memorial Day, a big ceremony takes place with the raising of the flag by the Boy Scouts and patriotic speeches are given by local and state politicians.
I'll tell you, from now on, I plan to stop by the Lake Bluff War Memorial each time I visit Lake Bluff.