From the President

Vol. XXIII No. 2 - SUMMER 2012

By: Robert Remer

History loves anniversaries, and so do we.

Anniversaries provide a wonderful opportunity to celebrate accomplishments and to contemplate the future. That is what we hope to do at the Edgewater Historical Society during a year of events, programs and exhibits.

The lead article about the museum’s upcoming tenth anniversary tells a great story of what your organization has been able to do with a refurbished fire house in a mere decade. This has been accomplished with a lot of your community support and tremendous dedication from the scores of volunteers who have served on our board, helped visitors through exhibits and home tours, weeded the garden, licked stamps, cleaned up around the place, hammered a few nails, done home histories, researched old photographs, helped put up and research exhibits, and yes, donate essential money and time to help us keep the doors open and the heat (and A/C!) working.

Before that lovely, festive day in October 2002, your society had been hard at work for almost 15 years laying the groundwork for what became this great place. That means, yes, we also have a 25th anniversary of EHS coming up in the early months of 2013. We will commemorate the January 1988 incorporation, and particularly the Spring day that same year at the Edgewater Library when the community came together to ratify the EHS by-laws. That is why we have dubbed the year long celebration as our “10-25” Celebration. We plan to end the year of celebrations with a Fall awards dinner and ceremony. Stay posted.

We love all anniversaries in our community and we commend to you a few we will be honoring in this coming year or two. This year St. Gertrude’s celebrates 100 years and will cap off their year of festivities with the publication of their history. Next year will see the “Senntennial” celebration of 100 years of Senn High School in the Fall. We expect to honor our wonderful local high school and support their efforts. Next year will also be the 125th anniversary of the Church of Atonement, Edgewater’s oldest church, with which we are partnering to help the community better understand and appreciate their history. If you know of important milestones or anniversaries of local organizations, block clubs, associations, or businesses, please let us know so we can celebrate together.

Kathy Gemperle’s article lays out the story of Edgewater Historical Society and all that we have been able to do as a museum. It’s been a great ten years and we should never forget that we have the museum because of the indefatigable efforts of Kathy and many others and their devotion and devotion to Edgewater’s history – just as that same devotion got us started 25 years ago as an historical society. We owe them so much.

She wrote about the many programs and exhibits we held. We hate to take them down because they help to tell the story of Edgewater and its people, and sometimes our larger community of Chicago. We frequently wish we only had a museum big enough to house all of those stories and exhibits. We often talk about our space needs, and given the realities of limited space and funds, we look to other ways to help preserve and present all the many interesting aspects of our history through technology; thus we are looking at social media, “virtual” exhibits, and the possible use of interactive kiosks to help tell the story, the time line, and the accomplishments of Edgewater. As you look back at these reprised exhibits, during the first half of our celebration year, we would like to hear from you our members and our public about what you like best to help tell our story going forward. The second half of the celebration year will honor and exhibit “Treasures of Edgewater” not just important artifacts but people too. We will end the celebration year with a banquet in Fall 2013 to honor the many people who have done so much for the Edgewater and the EHS history.

As we welcome our new exhibit, Greetings from Edgewater, we must say goodbye to the Crime and Community Exhibit which was one of our most popular, educational, and interesting exhibits. We are grateful to curator Morry Matson, Kathy Gemperle and their team (including LeRoy Blommaert, Tiffany Middleton, Tom Murphy, Thom Greene, Sandee Remis, Dorothy Nygren, and Marty Stewart. 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.

We can never say enough about the wonderful docents who selflessly volunteer their time to keep your museum open and to welcome our visitors every weekend of the year except major holidays. Now this

Summer, your board decided to stay open one Thursday evening a week; this has required an even greater commitment by the docents. We have thoroughly enjoyed summers in the garden with local musical talent organized by Dorothy Nygren and Marty Stewart.

Edgewater Counts and you do too. Everyone of us is in the decennial census, the last of which was completed in 2010. There were a lot of surprises for Edgewater, such as a sudden drop in our population after decades of steady increases. Similarly there were big drops in our two largest immigrant groups, Mexican and Bosnian, of 46% and 74% respectively in the last 10 years. Over the coming year we will have articles in the newsletter bringing some of the census data to you. We will also be organizing workshops for organizations and citizens to better understand and use the census. If you think of yourself as a “census geek” or would just like to learn more, we would welcome your participation and interest.

This Fall we hope to organize an anniversary class of new docents; if you like local history, like people, and would like to help keep our doors open, please let us know if you would like to volunteer to be a docent. You will have a chance to attend classes (not too many) about local history, and the museum, to have peak previews of exhibits and programs, and much more. Please let us know before the Summer is out if you would like to join the team. Being a docent only requires a minimum of a three hour commitment once a month. We would love to have you join us.

Docents also play an integral and enjoyable roll in the Fall House Tour, this year highlighting the Highlands in northwest Edgewater. This occurs once a year on the third Sunday of September. If you would like to be tour docent, you will have a chance to spend an afternoon at one of the homes helping guide our tour attendees. We also have a festive pot luck supper the night before when we talk about the individual homes, and then take a special preview walk to see them all.

And finally, don’t forget that the museum is a drop off for non-perishable food for Edgewater’s food pantry, Care For Real, during our open hours.