From the President

Vol. XXIII No. 1 - SPRING 2012

By: Robert Remer

As Spring unfolds in Edgewater, your museum’s garden effervesces with colors and textures. Each season brings a new look to the front, rear, and sides of the old fire house. It is a joy to watch the changes. We know that our neighbors and the local birds appreciate the garden as they rest in the back yard benches and branches on their way to somewhere else. This sublime treasure of the museum requires careful nurturing and attention thanks to our devoted garden team headed by Sandee Remis and her trusted aide de jardin Elisabeth Szegho. And our trusty Tom Murphy and Thom Greene help with the heavy lifting and arborist prescriptions. (We sadly had to part with one of our small trees this year.)

This loveliness is being preserved by new board member, Tracy Poyser, noted local artist, creating a photographic series of all the seasons at the museum. We don’t know where Tracy’s inspired project will lead us – perhaps an exhibit? Perhaps a slide show on our web site? Some museum greeting cards? Any suggestions? We can’t wait.

Spring also brought us a wonderful crop of five new board members elected at the annual meeting on March 24th. Besides Tracy, we welcomed Megan Hudgins Cunningham, Arthur Arfa, Marsha Holland and Paul Bonilla. They are all active EHS members and we look forward to their bountiful contributions.

The annual meeting was held at the Broadway Armory and we were blessed with a wonderful speaker to kick off the theme of the upcoming exhibit on Crime and Community in Edgewater. Noted historian and author Richard Lindberg spoke on the history of crime on the north side of Chicago. Thanks also to Morry Matson, curator of the upcoming exhibit who gave us a sneak preview of this important exhibit.

As we welcome our new exhibit, we must say goodbye to the Grocery Store exhibit, which was one of our most popular, educational and interesting exhibits. We are really grateful to Kathy Gemperle and her team (including LeRoy Blommaert, Tiffany Middleton, Morry Matson, Tom Murphy, Thom Green and Barb Strauss). The exhibit was so terrific that Kathy and Dorothy Nygren are working on a traveling exhibit and teaching module that can be taken to local Edgewater schools. This particular exhibit brought in three schools and over 130 students to enjoy all the hands on activities.

Speaking of taking the show on the road, we are planning during 2012 to reach out to all of Edgewater’s neighborhood organizations and block clubs to encourage participation in the Edgewater History Project. Although we have information in our archives on virtually all those groups, it is not as complete as we would like to document their important work. We want to engage all Edgewater institutions and organizations in documenting their continuing and past accomplishments. If you or your block club or organization would like to have us, we would be glad to make a presentation on how we can work together to preserve your history.

And finally, speaking of documenting our history, we at EHS have a history to proclaim as well. This coming year provides us with the opportunity to celebrate our 10th anniversary as your museum (October) and the 25th anniversary (January, 2013) as your local historical society. We are calling this our “10/25 Celebration” and we are planning a number of events and exhibits to talk about our own proud history serving the Edgewater Community. We hope you will be joining us, and thank you for all your support over these past 25 years.

Case Dismissed - Great News!

The Scrapbook was literally on its way to the printers when we heard from our lawyers that the lawsuit against the Edgewater Historical Society and four board members had been dismissed

We are terribly grateful to them for representing us in this case over the past years, and to the firm Neal & Leroy, LLC, which represented us in the first phase. Their assistance was essential and invaluable. We are also deeply indebted to the four board members who were defendants in this case: LeRoy Blommaert, Thom Greene, Kathy Gemperle and Betty Mayian. They unnecessarily endured untold financial worries, wasted time and extra expense over these last few years for having exercised their right of free speech in support of preservation and the Edgewater Historical Society. We cannot thank them enough for what they have endured.

We will report more about the case in later issues; we also have an obligation to consider the implications of this case for preservation efforts, first amendment rights, and generally about the implied threat to community organizations. But for now, we want to enjoy the good news. Thanks also to our members and those in the community who lent their support and kind words to EHS during this difficult period.