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The Museum is located near downtown Downers Grove on the grounds of Wandschneider Park in the historic Blodgett House. The gracious Victorian structure was built in 1892 as the 11-room home of the Charles Blodgett family, descendents of one of the Village’s first settlers.
Step across the threshold of the Blodgett House for a glimpse of the past. Enter a bygone era when families rested on fainting couches instead of recliners, stored food in iceboxes instead of refrigerators, and entertained themselves with parlor games instead of cyber games.
A treasure trove of fascinating facts and fun, The Museum is a great place for a family outing, a resource for local research, and a memorable way to spend a part of the day.
Timeless Town - Downers Grove, Illinois
Named for its first settler, Pierce Downer, the community’s heritage features a unique and interesting blend of people, places, and events.
Discover the history behind the headlines as you learn about the famous folks who once claimed Downers Grove as their home. The list includes the first woman elected to the Illinois legislature; a world renowned Egyptologist who was present at the opening of King Tut’s tomb; a champion air race pilot and designer; a former Miss America; an internationally acclaimed opera baritone; and two Olympic gold medallists. Come explore the events that shaped their lives.
After you visit the Museum, take time to stop at other nearby points of historical interest. Tee off at the Downers Grove Golf Course, noted as the first course in the U.S. west of the Alleghenies. Take in a movie at The Tivoli Theater, the country’s second movie palace designed and built for sound motion pictures. Stroll through Main Street Cemetery, one of only two cemeteries in the nation still located in a central business district. You can hike the trails at Lyman Woods natural area, an example of a pre-settlement landscape, or just stand in Belmont Prairie amidst a remnant of the sea of tall grass that once blanketed Illinois. Finally you can take a community wide tour to see one of America’s largest concentrations of the Sears catalog homes that were shipped by rail to the area between 1908 and 1940.
Timeless Treasures - Museum Collections & Exhibitions
The Downers Grove Park District Museum’s mission is to provide educational and leisure opportunities for the community by collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting materials that explain and document the history of Downers Grove and its relationship to local state, regional and national history.
The Museum collections include everything from buttonhooks to butter paddles, washboards to wedding dresses, baby frocks to clocks. Visitors can view a remnant of the old Southwest Plank Road completed in 1851 as the main route between Chicago and Aurora before the railroads were built. The Village’s first motorized fire truck and the history of the Downers Grove Fire Department are displayed in the Museum Annex adjacent to the Blodgett House. More than 15,000 artifacts help to illustrate in temporary and permanent exhibitions the continuing story of Downers Grove from its founding in 1832 through yesterday.
Timeless Pleasures - Special Events & Programs
Educational programs and special events feature historical activities for the entire family. Parents and children can experience together the cultural activities that bring history to life. Many programs are held at the museum, such as the annual Independence Day Ceremony honoring our country’s birth with rousing music, patriotic oratory and refreshments. The Museum also offers History Take Out, a collection of educational outreach programs that can be modified for the needs of most groups.
Timeless Leaning - Research
The Museum research library and archives serve as a vital resource for scholars, educators, students, and the general public. Research materials include census records, cemetery surveys, birth and death records, telephone directories, school yearbooks, maps, photographs, published genealogies, letters, and diaries.
Timeless Service - Museum Volunteers
People from all walks of life enjoy contributing to their community as volunteers at The Downers Grove Park District Museum. You’re invited to join them. There is a volunteer experience waiting for you, so just let your particular area of interest be known. Everyone is welcome! Volunteers are students, retirees, couples, and others who just want to make a difference in Downers Grove. Contact the museum today for more information.
Timeless Location - How to Get Here
We’re easy to find. Downers Grove is located 25 miles west of Chicago, near Interstate Highways 55, 88 and 355. Just follow the brown and white signs posted on major Downers Grove roads to The Museum grounds at Wandschneider Park. We’re just 2 ½ blocks east of Main Street near downtown Downers Grove.
Office & Research : Monday - Friday, 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.
Public Tours : Sunday - Friday, 1:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M.
Group Tours: Monday - Friday, 9:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. and 3:00 to 4:30 P.M. by appointment only
Call for additional information and reservations.
Timeless Access: Admissions
The Museum admission charge is FREE!
The Museum offers a wheelchair lift for access to the first floor and a videotaped tour of selected exhibits. To make arrangements for special accessibility needs, please contact us in advance.
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