Thursday, January 30, 2014

I Can See For Niles and Niles: Historical Museum Provides a Pleasant Look Back

Museum Visit Recap / Photo Gallery

Niles Historical Museum
8970 Milwaukee Ave., Niles, IL
Visited January 29, 2014

Yesterday, my friend Ken and I took advantage of an open afternoon and traveled back to the early 20th century--and even a bit further--by visiting the Niles Historical Museum.

This was the first time either of us had been to the imposing building a bit south of Golf on Milwaukee--which served as the Cook County Sheriff's Quarters from 1923 to 1984--despite Ken being a Niles resident for 30 years and me living in nearby Skokie, part of Niles Township, on and off and on again for 45 years.

Although there are occasional movie showings and other special programs on weekends, the museum is regularly open just Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:30am to 3pm. It is operated by volunteers of the Niles Historical Society, and though admission is free, we were taken on a nice tour of the collection's three floors that made us happy to each donate $5 at the end.

Certainly the museum contained plenty of history directly tied to Niles, including photos of long-gone homes, farms and taverns, relics from prominent local businesses such as Salerno, reminders of the Tam O'Shanter Country Club (which survives in part as a 9-hole public golf course but once hosted major tournaments and celebrities) and Mill Run Playhouse, impressive battlefield paintings by hometown artist Konrad Hack and items that were donated by local residents, including the uniform and shoes a Niles man had worn as a POW in North Korea.

But with our docent, Doris, being a good bit older than Ken, who is a half-generation beyond my 45 years, I best enjoyed how items likely present in many similar local historical museums--lanterns, school desks, old telephones & typewriters, radios & televisions, dollhouses & other toys, ice boxes, early washing machines, etc.--prompted varying levels of recollect and discussion among the three of us. Of course, many items displayed predated us all, such as a covered wagon, Model T Ford and various tools & farming instruments.

But with myself having only known color televisions, electric typewriters and (for the most part) touch-tone phones during my lifetime--and all that the Internet and digital information age has fostered--it was pointed and a bit poignant to be reminded of the types of items people managed to live with, and even without, back in the proverbial day.

Rather than describe everything we saw, I'll post below a gallery of photographs I took--while encouraging you to stop into the Niles Historical Museum if you ever get your chance.

It's well-worth a couple hours of your time, and many decades preceding it.

(The photos are "beneath the fold;" click below to see them if you don't.)

(Caption added by me)

Painting by Konrad Hack

1 comment:

Unknown said...

What a nice review of our Historical and Cultural Center, Seth!

Administrative Assistant
Village of Niles
Niles Historical & Cultural Center