Welcome to 10 Hot Spots—Plus One—in Park Ridge brought to you by The Kalo Foundation and Illinois. Mile After Magnificent Mile. Now let's get started with a little background. The center of the settlement that would eventually become Park Ridge began when Jarius Warner and Thomas Stevens, the surveyors of Rand Road, built a small cabin a block west of Prospect on Northwest Highway in 1840. By the time the Victorian Age gave way to the early 1900s—because of its bucolic beauty— Park Ridge had become one of hundreds of towns and villages across the country where people in the creative arts chose to live and work as they pursued their artistic interests. The Kalo Foundation of Park Ridge seeks to preserve this rich artistic legacy. Some of the spaces you are about to visit are public and others are private homes. We hope you enjoy your tour and ask you to respect the boundaries of the private property featured on this trip through history.
Iannelli Studios Heritage Center
Drawn to the Park Ridge Artist Colony in 1919, Alfonso Iannelli and his wife, Margaret Spaulding Iannelli, established their art studios in these buildings at Northwest Highway and Elm working with architect Barry Byrne to renovate the former blacksmith shop associated with the brickyard that gave Park Ridge its 19th Century beginnings as Brickton.
Immigrating to America from Italy in 1898, Iannelli embraced the freedom and opportunity that the United States offered. From Art Deco to Modernism, he worked as a painter, sculptor and interior and industrial designer creating a unique American artistic expression that sought to make art an experience for all people in their everyday lives. Based in Park Ridge for nearly 50 years, Iannelli took an active role advising the city on planning, mentoring new artistic and architectural talents, and making an indelible mark on the world’s art scene.
His work can be viewed around Chicago at the Prudential Building’s Rock of Gibraltar, the Adler Planetarium, the landmark Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge and here at the Iannelli Studios Heritage Center, 255 N. Northwest Highway, headquarters of the Kalo Foundation of Park Ridge. You might have even seen his designs in the coffee pot, blender or toaster in your grandmother’s kitchen.
Eicher Home/Grant Wood
Henri Eicher, one of many trained European silversmiths who came to live in Park Ridge in the early 20th Century, and his wife Asta, a silver designer and silversmith as well, lived in this house at 312 Cedar, just one block north of the Kalo Arts Crafts Community House where Henri headed Kalo’s metal working staff. The Eichers also leased their barn—still standing, west of the house—to a series of silversmiths.
One of these was artist Grant Wood, who worked for Kalo owner Clara Barck Welles while studying at the Art Institute of Chicago. Wood returned to Iowa and became famous for his painting, American Gothic. After Mr. Eicher died, Asta was lured to West Virginia by a con artist professing romance in a lonely hearts correspondence. She and her three children came to a tragic end in a story that was the inspiration for the 1951 novel, The Night of the Hunter, and the 1953 movie of the same name. Now another novel, Quiet Dell, by Jayne Anne Phillips examines the tragedy again.
Harrison Ford, a 1960 graduate of Maine East High School, lived in this home at 109 N. Washington when he was the first student broadcaster on his high school’s new radio station, WMTH. Ford went on to Ripon College in Wisconsin where he did some acting before dropping out. Summer stock inspired him to go to California in search of a career in acting.
When he couldn’t get beyond minor roles, he turned to carpentry to supplement his income. Although he had no experience as a carpenter, he learned from books and became known as the Carpenter to the Stars building a recording studio for Sergio Mendes, a deck for Sally Kellerman, and working as a stagehand for The Doors. Then a carpentry job for director George Lucas, led to a supporting role in 1973 in American Graffiti, and another for Francis Ford Coppala, gave him a role in 1974’s The Conversation.
Later, Lucas hired him to read lines as other actors screen-tested for an upcoming space opera. Won over by his roguish portrayal—which incidentally his high school counselor John Huizinga said was, “Just Harry being Harry”—Lucas cast him as Han Solo. When Star Wars became the highest-grossing film in history in 1977, Harrison Ford became a superstar who has played adventurer Indiana Jones, detectives, the president, military men and many other romantic leads.
When Clara Barck completed her artistic training, she discovered that there were few people who would hire women as designers and so in 1900 she created her own company, named Kalo, for the Greek word meaning “beautiful.” Initially working in textiles, copper, leather, wood, and baskets, her interest shifted to hand wrought jewelry and silver after she married George Welles and moved to the Kalo Arts Craft Community House, 322 Grant Place, here at the corner of Grant and Clinton where Park Ridge’s silver industry and the Artist Colony that flourished here around the turn of the 20th Century and beyond intersected.
The Kalo Shop later relocated to downtown Chicago, where it continued in business until 1970. Kalo was a major employer and helped to launch several dozen employees in their own silver and jewelry businesses. Clara also was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement in Illinois and is credited with helping women in this state win the right to vote in Presidential elections in 1913 seven years before the 19th Amendment which gave women full voting rights was passed in 1920.
On the northeast corner of Grant Place and Clinton stands the home of Frederick Richardson at 300 Grant Place, the talented illustrator, who helped to establish the Park Ridge Artists’ Colony in the 1890s. His wife, Josephine Welles, a sculptor, grew up in Park Ridge, where her grandfather and his family were early landowners.
The Richardsons lived across the street from her father, George Welles, a former Park Ridge Village president, and his second wife, Clara Barck Welles. In the 1890s, when photographs were few and expensive to print in newspapers, Richardson drew the news for large illustrated pages in the Chicago Daily News. He also created classic illustrations for children’s literature, including a volume of Mother Goose rhymes and several books by L. Frank Baum, who created the Oz books.
He taught classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Many of his fellow instructors and students moved their families to Park Ridge in the years before World War I, launching the first generation of the Park Ridge Artist Colony.
On the southeast corner of Wisner and Elm Street--officially designated as Rodham Corner by the city of Park Ridge--stands the girlhood home of Hillary Rodham Clinton at 235 Wisner. A student for three years at Maine East High School, she graduated from the newly opened Maine South High School in 1965.
Her history teacher, R. Paul Carlson, instilled an interest in American history and government, while her youth minister at First United Methodist Church introduced her to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This young Goldwater campaigner met her husband, William Jefferson Clinton, while they were both students at Yale and the rest is history as she stepped onto the world stage through a series of high-profile jobs first as first lady of Arkansas and continuing as first lady of the United States, a U.S. Senator from New York State, and United States Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. In Park Ridge, you'll find a Hillary Burger with olives at the Pickwick Restaurant and her picture among the honored alumni at both her former high schools.
Frederic Goudy and his wife lived in this home at 329 S. Prospect, and operated the Village Press modeled on the Arts and Crafts ideals of William Morris in an unheated garage at the rear of the property. Although his primary business was printing fine books, he is best remembered for inventing the Goudy typeface which is considered to be among the most legible and readable typefaces ever developed. In 1908, he created his first significant typeface for the Lanston Monotype Machine Company—E-38—sometimes known as Goudy Light. However, in that same year the Village Press burned to the ground, destroying all of his equipment and designs.
In 1911, Goudy produced his first "hit", Kennerly Old Style, for an H. G. Wells anthology published by Mitchell Kennerly. Goudy is celebrated as one of the finest and most prolific type designers in history, developing more than 120 typefaces. You may find some on your computer: Goudy Old Style and Copperplate are among them. He also developed Remington Typewriter, originally developed for Remington typewriters but later picked up by Monotype. His most popular typeface, Goudy, was similar to older type styles but had a uniqueness of form no other could rival. He designed all his distinctive typefaces freehand.
The Blues Brothers
When filming locations were scouted for The Blues Brothers, Park Ridge was among the many winners for this uniquely Chicago-based comedy film that was shot at a number of locations around the metropolitan area. Standing at the corner of Talcott and Cumberland, you will recognize the Shell gas station and Nelson Funeral Home that Jake and Elwood sped past in a classic police chase sequence from the 1980 hit as the brothers raced through Park Ridge’s South Park community and squads pulled out to intercept them.
In the movie, A trooper radios that the chase was "proceeding on Courtland Avenue" just before the Blues Brothers and the police spin out in the three-way intersection of Devon, Talcott and Courtland. Through the magic of moviemaking, the chase ends just seconds later 40 miles to the south in Harvey, Illinois, where the Bluesmobile crashed through storefronts in the closed Dixie Square Mall.
At the southeast corner of Northwest Highway and South Prospect Avenue, the Pickwick Theatre at 5 S. Prospect with its distinctive tower is the best known place in town. Located in Uptown, the highest point in Park Ridge, the Pickwick Theatre, and the Pickwick Building which surrounds it with offices and stores, has been a visual landmark since they opened in 1928.
Architects R. Harold Zook and William McCaughey designed the building for visionary developer and Park Ridge Mayor William Malone, but many of the iconic elements inside and out were the creation of Alfonso Iannelli and his Iannelli Studios team. These include the Art Deco detail work, the dramatic fire curtain and matching ceiling mural in the main theatre, the tower stained glass, the metal heating grills, and the statue at the south end of the lobby.
The main theatre, one of the few 1920s movie palaces still operating in the Chicago area, has a restored theatre organ, and a full stage originally designed for vaudeville and dramatic performance. A second wing in the back has three smaller theatres showing additional films. The Pickwick Theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also a designated Park Ridge city landmark.
The distinctive marquee was featured in one of the first Chicago movie review shows, At the Movies, hosted by the late Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. Check out the bargain rates to see current films at an affordable price.
Park Ridge Non-Profit Center
The Park Ridge Non-Profit Center is the latest use for this building at 720 Garden at the northeast corner of Garden and Fairview. Although it serves today as the headquarters of the Park Ridge Chamber of Commerce and hosts many community organization meetings, in the early 20th Century, it was the home of painter Walter Marshall Clute and his wife, illustrator Beulah Mitchell Clute, members of the original Park Ridge Artists Colony.
The couple called their home and studio “The Birches.” After Mr. Clute was killed in an automobile crash in California in 1915, the property was sold to Kathryn and Samuel Guard, Sr. As head of the Sears Agricultural Foundation, Mr. Guard helped to start WLS Radio in Chicago. WLS stands for “World’s Largest Store.” He broadcast farm reports and religious programs from the house in the 1920s, before the radio station built its first permanent studios. Later, the Fisher family established “The Pantry Restaurant” here. After remodeling and adding the western wing, they hosted many elegant events. The Clute House is a Park Ridge city landmark.
Maine Township Town Hall
The Town Hall at 1700 Ballard Road is the home of Maine Township, one of 30 townships in Cook County. Founded in 1850, the township is the oldest unit of local government in the area. Since its founding it has seen its surroundings grow from a predominantly rural farming community to a major metropolitan area with some 135,000 residents.
Named after the home state of Joseph Mitchell who felt the need for a formal political organization because careless farmers were letting their cattle roam into his corn, today Maine Township remains the government closest to the people—especially for the 33,000 residents who live in the unincorporated area. In 1983, the township moved to these iconic headquarters designed by Lloyd Wright, son of the world famous Frank Lloyd Wright.
When he designed the building—formerly Good Shepherd Church—Wright said he aimed to lift on high—literally as well as figuratively—the site above the existing flat terrain typifying a sense of elevation inherent in religious purpose and structures. Be sure to notice the prairie garden along the east side of the building with plants dating back to prehistoric times—part of renovations and additions to the building made by the Township to honor the Wright design. And as you leave, take a look at the recently discovered and restored antique road grader which shows up at many local parades.
If you enjoyed 10 Hot Spots—Plus One—and would like to learn more about the history of Park Ridge and its Art Colony, stop in at Kalo Foundation Headquarters at Iannelli Studios Heritage Center, 255 N. Northwest Highway, where you can visit our resource center and find out about other upcoming tours and events. Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call 847-261-4595 or visit The Kalo Foundation website at www.kalofoundation.org. 10 Hot Spots—Plus One—has been brought to you by The Kalo Foundation and Illinois. Mile After Magnificent Mile.
As a co-developer of Park Ridge Historic Tours, I was asked to develop and voice this script for a self-guided tour available to the public.