History On the Move

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The History of Our ‘History On the Move’ Project

Latest Update: July 2014

The Society had gained momentum early in 2012 fund-raising for renovation of the Solomon Cottage at the Youth Campus as its new home, with the likelihood of an extension of our 20-year lease there. Suddenly, The Youth Campus management, after 104 continuous years of caring for children in need in this community, announced closure of its Park Ridge facility in April.

In June, The Youth Campus announced that it was being brought into the operations of another long-standing children’s welfare agency, Children’s Home + Aid, founded in 1883, with headquarters in Chicago.

Solomon House

In September 2012, the Park District announced its intention to sign a contract with Children’s Home + Aid for purchase of the entire Youth Campus property. The contract was accepted, and a referendum in support sale of bonds for the purchase and improvement of the grounds was held during the Park Ridge general election on April 9, 2013. The purchase of The Youth Campus grounds and conversion to a new Park Ridge park was approved by local voters that day.

Since then, the Society has been in continuing dialog with the Park District; our goal is to provide for long-term occupation of the Solomon Cottage. Outright ownership of the Cottage is prohibited by Illinois Park District statutes, and we have been pursuing a long-term lease as an alternate.

Since August 2013, the Society and the District have addressed and agreed upon the structure of a 25-year renewable lease for the Cottage, with payment for initial renovation within the first two years of the lease term and final renovation costs spread out over the eight years, as a way of managing our fund-raising work. A preliminary Agreement is guiding the selection of an architect for renovation work, and agreement on renovation plans and costs and the architect’s fee.

Since September 2009, when we first signed a lease with The Youth Campus, nothing has changed in our assessment that the Cottage, with its own history, its location in Park Ridge, and its size, remains the most attractive place for a local History Center.

We thank all of you interested in Park Ridge history for your support of our determined pursuit of this location.

There is no looking back to 41 South Prairie Avenue; we made the right decision to leave that location and Victorian-era Park Ridge.

About the Solomon Cottage at the Illinois Industrial School for Girls

This was the first cottage built in 1908 when the Illinois Industrial School for Girls relocated to Park Ridge from Evanston.

Hannah Greenebaum Solomon was the President of the School at that time.

Julius Rosenwald, noted industrialist and philanthropist, provided the funds for construction of this cottage, which was then named in honor of his friend Hannah Solomon, to recognize her many efforts on behalf of young dependent children.

Cottage architects were Holabird and Roche. The Cottage is an early example of their style, and the firm continues in practice to this day as Holabird and Root.

Mrs. Solomon founded the National Council of Jewish Women in 1893. She was responsible for the establishment of the first juvenile court in Cook County. She collaborated with another School Board Member, Jane Addams, to bring the novel ‘Cottage Plan’ to Park Ridge. This plan allowed for small, discrete houses for the School’s girls, with a housemother in charge of each cottage, on grounds with open green space and fresh air. (The School was previously housed in the former Old Soldier’s Home in Evanston).

Hundreds of destitute or dependent young girls found a warm and welcoming entry to the School at this Cottage. Through a program of manual training and schooling, they were given a chance to find a place of their own in life, and become helpful to the community.

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