Frank and the Other Woman
Favorite thing: I recently had time to actually read a whole book, if you are heading to Oak Park and want to read some good historical fiction, pick up a copy of "Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan which weaves the facts known about the architect's affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney into a novel. It's not a fairy tale romance, the relationship was quite a scandal in their day and ruined two marriages, two main characters are at times arrogant and selfish in pursuit of personal and professional fulfillment but it's an interesting read. If, like me, you don't know how the story ends, don't look it up until after you've read the novel, the ending is a bit of a shocker.
Favorite thing: After visiting the Oak Park Visitor Center, we noticed that there was a park across the street; so, we investigated.
The Austin Gardens in the 100th block of North Forest Street was named after the Austin family who were founders of First Chicago Bank of Oak Park [formerly called Oak Park Trust and Savings Bank.]
Photograph #1: This is by Egon Weiner and is called "Frank Lloyd Wright--1867-1959" This bust of Wright was put on this site [at the entrance to Austin Gardens] to celebrate the Bicentennial of the American Revolution and Oak Park's proud heritage. It was commissioned by the Oak Park Bicentennial Commission and the Park District of Oak Park in 1981.
Egon Weiner was born in Vienna, Austria in 1906 He fled Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938 and became an American citizen in 1944. He worked as a professor of sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago and as a visiting professor of art at Augustana College. He died in Evanston, Illinois, in 1987. He and Frank Lloyd Wright were friends.
Photograph #2: This photo shows the wrought iron fence around the Austin Gardens which displays its name.
Photograph #3: In the far distance is the outdoor stage, which is home of the summer Festival Theatre in the Park. This theatre was founded in 1975 by Oak Park resident, Marion Karczmar. This year  marks the 33rd consecutive year of classic productions. Their philosophy is that "producing the works of William Shakespeare as they were meant to be staged--as thrilling, living, popular theater, al fresco in pastoral Austin Gardens..."
You have to bring your own lawn chairs or rent them. Fortunately, the area is sprayed for bugs before each performance. Address: 1010 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL Phone: (708)-524-2050
Fondest memory: However, my favorite thing about Austin Gardens is the solitude. Each time we were in the Austin Gardens park, it was so quiet, even when people were all around. There are benches to sit and observe nature; their are gardens to appreciate; and there are paths [as in photograph #4] for walking for pleasure or exercise. It's so wonderful to have this area of solitude right in the central part of the city.
- Historical Travel
- Road Trip
The Scoville Park Fountain 1909/1969
Favorite thing: I researched this fountain because I like it so much. The information came from Frank Lloyd Wright's Chicago by Thomas J. O'Gorman
The Scoville Park Fountain is known as the Horse Show Fountain. It is located at the corner of Oak Park Drive and Lake Street. Frank Lloyd Wright designed it with Richard Bock [who actually created it] for the Horse Show Association of Oak Park. That association was important at that time because horses were how people were transported along the cobblestone streets of Oak Park in 1903.
This fountain tablature resemples an ancient Celtic "dolmen". The square opening within the fountain's rectangular body is topped by another rectangular slab. There are many carvings on the interior square slab near the water trough itself. It was designed for easy access for both horses, dogs, and humans. But it shows also Wright's love of simple shapes
Even though Wright receives the most credit for this fountain, he really collaborated with its sculptor, Richard Bock. It was dedicated in 1909, and Wright's influence began in 1903. This is not the original fountain that was located about 100 feet east of this spot. The original fountain was badly deteriorated. The fountain you see in the photograph, which now stands in at the entrance to the park, is a 1969 replica to commemorate the centennial of Wright's birth. Ironically, it has an inaccurate date of his birth because Wright lied about being two years younger than he really was!
Fondest memory: The second photograph is a replica relief sculpture is copied as closely as possible of the original Richard Bock work in 1906. This relief is a sculpted plaque help by two kneeling females. Below the plaque is a tree trunk & above it are the tree's leaves.
There are some inscriptions on the fountain. One reads: "Erected in 1909 Oak Park Horse Show Association". The second inscription reads: "Wright-Bock Plaza Fountain restored 1969" Note that in this inscription, the fountain is referred to as the Wright-Bock Plaza Fountain!
I just love architecture, sculpture, and history, so this fountain by any of its three names was a favorite of mine.
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Scoville Park in Oak Park
Favorite thing: *Scoville Park [between Lake and Ontario Streets], was named after James Scoville whose family estate was located here. The Scoville family was not the first to own the land. (That distinction goes to Joseph Kettlestrings.) That 1880's Scoville Mansion was demolished after the Park District purchased it.
The World War I Memorial in the park is at the exact location of where the Scoville Mansion was located. My #2 Photograph shows that Memorial. At the bottom of the monument is this engraving: "Erected by the citizens of Oak Park and River Forest, Illinois in honor of the men of this community who took part in the World War 1914-1918." By the way, Ernest Hemingway's name is on this memorial.
Photograph #3 is a picture of Mickey at the historic Horse Show Fountain. [See my individual tip about the Horse Show Fountain}
Photograph #4 is a bust of Percy L. Julian, PH.D.
This bust was commissioned by the Institute for Science Education and Technology. I do not know what he had to do with Scoville Park.
See Photograph # 5:
Also in Scoville Park is a plaque honoring Joseph Kettlestrings, Oak Park's first white settler. The plaque reads:
"This tablet marks the spot
where stood the home of
the first white settler in Oak Park
This ground being a portion of the
Quarter section of land which he
purchased from the United States
government in the year 1833 at a price
of one dollar and a quarter an
acre. This tablet placed by the people
of Oak Park November 12, 1927"
Fondest memory: Photograph #1 of the flowers with the butterfly is what a loved most about Scoville Park. Right here in the middle of a very busy location, locals and visitors can enjoy nature, history, and art [sculpture and architecture]. My friend Mickey could not believe that the butterfly would allow me to get in so closely.
We really enjoyed a short time in Scoville Park.
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
Historic Lake Movie Theater
Favorite thing: 1022 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL 60301
Because I love old movie theaters, from the moment we arrived in Oak Park, I wanted to take a photograph of the historic Lake Theatre, especially, if possible, at night. Well, I was never at the right spot during the night hours; thus, I settled for snapping a picture during the afternoon.
This great old theatre was opened in 1936 and drew patrons from Chicago's western suburbs. Even though it was easy to walk to from streetcar and elevated lines, it still offered free parking to those who drove.
At that time, it was a single-level auditorium with a "sleek look" of streamlined art-deco design. [It still is today only much larger]. It was designed by a famous architect, Thomas Lamb. Its marquee's rounded corners are highlighted by blue neon letters. Unfortunately, like many other small theatres, it fell into a state of disrepair. Luckily for Oak Park, Classic Cinemas corporation purchased it in the 1980's. They conducted an ambitious renovation. [new roof, air conditioning, and it divided it into 3 auditoriums].
They brought in Art Deco elements from other old cinemas that were being torn down [ceiling fixtures, art deco wall fixtures, two 10 foot neo-classic lady statues]. They also copied elements from originals such as Lake's custom carpet design [copied from a fragment of the original 1936 which they discovered during renovation].
In 1985, a fourth auditorium was added [by using two former retail store spaces.] In 1988, they
renovated the marquee, and in 1995, Classic Cinemas purchased the next door building where three additional auditoriums were added.
As a result, this movie theatre is quite special..not a complete restoration/preservation because all is not original to the building, and many new and modern elements have been added. However, all the hard work that went into the remodeling/restoration/preservation makes Lake Theater quite unique.
Fondest memory: Talking to locals and others, I've discovered that in 2005, they also added Real Digital 3-D projection in auditorium 7. All seven auditoriums have Dolby Digital surround sound and large screens.
Some more special features of the Lake Theatre are free refills of ALL drinks as well as free refills of popcorn. They also have a self-butter dispenser so that you are able to put the amount of butter that you wish. AND, you receive free mints at the show's end! All the people I talked to said that the seats are roomy and comfortable [not stadium though]; that the restrooms, as well as the rest of the theatre, are very clean.
But, reasonable prices is what everyone really likes. Now, you must know that Chicago movie tickets are VERY EXPENSIVE so the prices here seem "like a steal":
Shows before six are $5.50
Seniors [60+] are $5.50
Students are $6.00
After 6:00 p.m. adults pay $8.00
I enjoyed seeing and learning about the history of The Lake Theatre.
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
Oak Park Visitors Center
Favorite thing: After checking in at our hotel in Oak Park, Illinois, my friend Mickey and I walked to 158 Forest Avenue to visit the OAK PARK VISITORS CENTER. The telephone number is (708) 524-0446 and the web address is www.visitoakpark.com
It's a rather large space that seems to be more of a gift shop than an information center.
You are able to get the Oak Park audio walking tour, books, maps, books, souvenirs and gifts.
Tickets are also available for Hemingway's Birthplace Home and Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple, the Pleasant Home tour, and The Historical Society of Oak Park/River Forest.
While there, I picked up the books in Photograph #3, which will certainly come in handy.
Fondest memory: This center has been newly renovated, and it is located under the parking garage [where rates are free for the first two hours with minimal rates after that. Parking is free on weekends and holidays.]
The people who work here are quite helpful and very patient. It was busy while we were there, and they were busy but took the time with each visitor. It leaves a good impression about Oak Park.
- Historical Travel
- Road Trip
Stroll through the downtown...
Favorite thing: Stroll through the downtown area, especially during one of the summer festivals on Oak Park Boulevard and Lake Street.
Fondest memory: Having a soup and sandwich special at Eric's Deli; enjoying an ice cream cone at Petersen's Ice Cfeam.