Help Us Build the New Park Ridge History Center

Help Support Our Project

The Past and Present Under One Roof

The Park Ridge History Center, now taking shape in the bones of a 110-year-old landmark building, will salute the past and open its doors to the present. It will tell the story of this pioneering Chicago suburb, highlight its role in the empowerment of women who were nurtured here and relive the story of the Illinois Industrial School for Girls, which once stood on ground the Center now shares.

The Park Ridge Historical Society envisions state-of-the-art new media and communication technology to bring the past alive, in both permanent and temporary exhibits. There will be a robust educational website to share archival riches. And the building will offer space for lectures, meetings, community gatherings and other events inside and in an adjacent garden.

The Solomon Cottage, which will house the new History Center, served for more than a century as an intake point for generations of impoverished and troubled girls who were given a second chance through the Industrial School, later known as the Youth Campus, and now Prospect Park. It is one of several notable buildings from the school that have been preserved. The building’s namesake, Hannah Solomon, was an early social justice fighter from Chicago who counted Susan B. Anthony and Jane Addams among her colleagues. In addition to establishing the National Council of Jewish Women she helped rescue the downtrodden Industrial School and moved it to Park Ridge, serving as its president.

The new Center will feature the compelling history and colorful stories of the founders of Park Ridge, including special exhibits and artifacts that will present our community’s history in innovative and dynamic ways. Women will hold a special place in the Center, including Solomon and figures ranging from Hillary Clinton to Mother Cabrini, whose accomplishments and prominent roles in the fabric of Park Ridge history will be featured.

Under a long-term lease and partnership with the Park Ridge Park District, the Society is seeking donations to fund its share of the project, in excess of $500,000, and welcomes contributions from Park Ridge organizations, businesses, and community groups as well as the general public. Contributions of all amounts are welcome and donors will receive special Historical Society membership and recognition opportunities within the new Center.

Please click HERE to donate to the Center. For more information on naming and partnership opportunities available for the Center, its galleries and exhibits, please contact Gary Briars at

Help Us Build the New Park Ridge History Center

The Society is a 501(c)(3) charitable, not-for-profit organization recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.


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