Where Does the Money Go
The Downers Grove Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting and celebrating Downers Grove history. We are dependent solely on your dues and donations to complete our mission. Several of our regular programs had to be postponed due to the pandemic … however we’ve still been very busy thanks to your membership payments and community generosity. Here’s what’s been going on …
- Main Street Cemetery Stewardship: The Society partners with the Village of Downers Grove to maintain the Main Street Cemetery, its monuments, and to document the histories of those who are buried there. In 2020, we coordinated the installation of a number of new headstones and markers after research uncovered names of more early settlers who are buried there. An insert with updated information about those buried at this cemetery was added to the “Voices That Are Gone” cemetery guidebook.
- In 2021, we plan to conduct a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey of the historic Main Street Cemetery to find any possible unmarked graves.
- www.mainstreetcemetery.com We have updated the Main Street Cemetery web app with new information and audio tracks and added the Pierce Downer Burial Site map and biographical information on this web app.
- Historic Home Program: Homeowners may apply to have their historic home recognized. Formerly the Centennial Homes program, it requires research and documentation on the home's history. In 2020, we updated the brochure for this program to make it easier to apply. Click here for more information on this program and the full list of Historic Homes
- Founders Day: This annual event is a collaboration of 9 different community organizations and not-for-profits which sponsor history-related programs for the enjoyment of the whole community with a special focus on one of our early settlers buried in the Main Street Cemetery. Unfortunately, we had to cancel the 2020 and 2021 celebrations due to the pandemic. We will begin planning for the 2022 event toward the end of this year.
- Educational Programs/Events: The History of the Tivoli became a sold-out event in 2020 with 200 guests touring this historic building and listening to its owner, Willis Johnson, talk about its storied past.
- Newsletters: We send out quarterly newsletters packed full of great stories about upcoming events and of course, Downers Grove history.
- Recognition Programs:
- Historian of the Year: This program recognizes individuals who have contributed time, talent, and treasure over many years in the support of Downers Grove history. Watch our website and Facebook page for more details about the 2021 recipient and celebration.
- Montrew Dunham Award: Named after noted author and Downers Grove historian Montrew Dunham, this award recognizes a community volunteer who has made a significant difference in Downers Grove. We were honored to recognize Dr. Floyd Mizener as our 2020 award recipient. Stay tuned for news on our 2021 celebration.
- Historic Site Program: This program recognizes a significant historic building or site in Downers Grove, providing the research for its history and sponsoring a bronze plaque for the location. In 2020 we dedicated a plaque for the Grant E. Dicke Fire Station. In 2021 we will recognize the historic burial ground of the Downer family.
- Living Cemetery: an annual event that brings together the talents of Herrick Middle School drama students and the Historical Society to depict the lives of early settlers buried in the historic Main St. Cemetery. In 2020, we modified this event to comply with pandemic guidelines. On October 23, 2021, if all goes well, we hope to be back with our regular program.
- Website: Recent improvements include the addition of new video content on the main page of the site. Visit us at www.downersgrovehistory.org
- Facebook: We have a growing presence with over 1500 followers on Facebook. The Facebook site focuses on upcoming events, interesting historical facts about Downers Grove, and discussions about the history of Downers Grove. Click here and follow us.
- Other Activities:
- We look forward to the Celebration of Life services for Carol Wandschneider (1944-2020) on July 24th at the Museum. To honor her many contributions to the Historical Society and to the community, we will be sponsoring a commemorative bench on the Museum campus (a partnership program with the Downers Grove Park District). Please check back here for details as they are released.
- Develop an online resource page to give access to the research and databases created by Carol Wandschneider…invaluable resources for those researching genealogy of Downers Grove residents.
- Online publishing of the charming 1982 booklet “What You Didn’t Know about Downers Grove and Didn’t Know Who to Ask” by Bartle Herrick
And…We Can’t Wait to See You Again!
If we are allowed to meet in large gatherings by the end of the year, we will look for you at History On Tap II. The first history-celebrating-blowout-of-a-pub crawl in 2019 had such a great response that we want to keep it going…with more venues, more history, more attendees. Stay tuned for updates from us…and the CDC.
The Downers Grove Historical Society is not affiliated with the Downers Grove Museum, which is operated by the Downers Grove Park District. The Museum is the protector of documents, photos, furnishings, and memorabilia from Downers Grove's rich history. They run many educational programs for all ages and are open to the public for enjoyment and research needs.