Photographs ©John P. Walsh
Villa Park, Illinois, May 2018.
Lisle, Illinois, 2018.
COVID-19 pandemic, April 2020.
COVID-19 pandemic, April 2020.
The Wilmette Theatre (1914), 1122 Central Ave., downtown Wilmette, Illinois, 2016.
The Wilmette Theater was built in 1914, and originally called the Central Theatre. Owned by Encyclopedia Britannica Films since 1950, the vintage movie house had been shuttered when Richard S. Stern bought and re-opened it in 1966. Stern came from a family of movie theater owners. His father, Henry Stern, opened what is credited as the first art film theater house in Chicago–the Cinema Theater at Michigan and Chicago Avenues opened in 1929. After it was demolished in 1981, a skyscraper and high-end retail store were built on the site. In 1966, Richard Stern asked his father for a loan, and bought the property. Decades later, after renovating the Wilmette Theater into a two-screen operation, Richard Stern decided to sell it. In 2006, Stern sold the Wilmette Theatre to a small group of community investors interested in the movie theatre’s unique history and continuing to operate it showing top-quality first run and art films. The lobby portion of the building retains much of its vintage charm.
The Tivoli Theatre (1928), Downers Grove, Illinois, 2016.
The 1,000+-seat Tivoli movie theater was designed by Van Gurten & Van Gurten architects. It opened on Christmas Day in 1928. and is the second in the U.S. fitted for sound movies. The first such theater was the 1200-seat Brooklyn Paramount Theater in New York City which opened in November 1928 and closed as such in the early 1960’s.
Symphony Center, Chicago, October 2014.
Fragrance & Perfume Shop, Macy’s, Chicago (State Street), 2018.
Ten Commandments, Chicago Loop Synagogue (1958), 2015.
The Nutcracker, Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, December 2017.
The 3,900-seat Auditorium Theatre was designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan in 1889. The Nutcracker ballet was composed in 1892 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and has become a holiday tradition.
COVID-19 pandemic, April 2020.
The Braddock Road, PA, March 2010.
The Braddock Road was a military road built in 1755 in what was then British America and is now the United States. It was the first improved road to cross the barrier of the ridge lines of the Appalachians. It was constructed by about 2,500 troops of the Virginia militia and British regulars commanded by General Edward Braddock (1695-1755), part of the expedition to conquer the Ohio Country from the French at the beginning of the French and Indian War (1756-63). George Washington, who was aide-de-camp to Braddock, had pioneered this route a year earlier when he traveled into the Ohio Country and met Native American leader, Tanacharison (1700-1754). The expedition gave Washington his first field military experience as well as other American military officers whose numbers profited from this military outing later during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783).
Braddock’s men had to cut a road wide enough to accommodate the wagons and draft animals that accompanied them, as well as the siege artillery that they brought along to use against the new Fort Duquesne established by the French in 1754 at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. Progress was painstakingly slow until Braddock split the force into a lead column of about 1,500 men and the rest as a support column to drag artillery and supplies. The flying column made rapid progress, and with each day, the distance between it and the support column increased. This marker is on the (later) National Pike (Route 40) between Elk Park and Farmington, Pennsylvania.
April 2020. Postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic.
CTA stop, Oak Park, Illinois, January 2018.
COVID-19 pandemic, June 2020.
Interstate 290 (Eisenhower Expressway) runs through historic Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois. July 2016.
Chicago (Streeterville), September 2015.
Chicago (Downtown), July 2015.
Chicago (Chinatown), August 2015.
Chicago (South Loop), September 2015.
Chicago, June 2018.
Watseka, Illinois, August 2017.
Wicked at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, 24 W. Randolph Street, Chicago, Illinois, December 2017.
The Oriental Theater, now the James M. Nederlander Theatre, opened in 1926. It is one of the many ornate movie palaces built in Chicago by the architectural firm of Rapp and Rapp.
The venue presented both movies and vaudeville acts in its first years. When talkies arrived, the Oriental Theatre became predominantly a movie house in the 1930s. Live stage, theatrical, and concert performances continued for Chicago audiences in a venue that currently seats over 2,000 people.
Duke Ellington and his orchestra made frequent appearances at the Nederlander/Oriental Theatre which was built in the exotic ornate style. Some of the legendary stars who were seen at the Nederlander/Oriental Theatre were Judy Garland, George jessel, Fanny Brice, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Cab Calloway, Eddie Cantor, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Jean Harlow, Billie Holiday, Bob Hope, Al Jolson, Danny Kaye, Jerry Lewis, The Marx Brothers, The Three Stooges, Frank Sinatra, Sophie Tucker, Sarah Vaughan, Henny Youngman, and many more.
The theatre underwent a multi-million dollar restoration in the mid 1990s and reopened in 1998. From June 2005 through January 2009, the theater housed a full production of Wicked, making it the most popular stage production in Chicago history. In December 2017 a traveling national tour of Wicked had just started its Chicago run.
Kentland, Indiana, August 2017.
Chicago (Uptown), August 7, 2015.
Wow Bao-Theater District, Chicago (1 W. Wacker Dr.), February 2018.
Somonauk United Presbyterian Church, 14030 Chicago Rd, Somonauk, IL, September 18, 2016.
The church was founded by Scotch and Scotch-Irish pioneers who came from Washington County, New York, north of Albany on Vermont’s western border. These hardy stock settled in the Green Mountain foothills of New York 40 years before the American Revolution. The first permanent settlers to the rolling prairies of this part of northern Illinois, between the Fox and Rock Rivers, about 60 miles west of upstart Chicago, arrived in 1842.
The Beveridges, George (1785-1870) and Ann (née Hoy) (1788-1865) settled into a log cabin built by a trapper in 1834—the first permanent house in the County. The church first met in the log cabin that was located just northeast of where the present church, built in 1875, still stands. (See-History of the Somonauk United Presbyterian church near Sandwich, DeKalb County, Illinois, by Jennie M. Patten, 1928, Chicago and S. H. Lay and T. G. Beveridge, “Somonauk United Presbyterian Church,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1908-1984) Vol. 18, No. 3 (Oct., 1925), pp. 694-720.)
A…Y BIR…AY Charlotte, February 24, 2021.
love, February 24, 2021.
Phyllis’ Musical Inn, 1800 West Division Street, Chicago (Wicker Park), Illinois, June 20, 2018.
Phyllis’ Musical Inn is a true Chicago institution, and its memories are still being made in its 68th year.
The bar with the glass-block wall was opened by Phyllis and Clem Jaskot Sr. in 1954. Today the bar is Wicker Park’s oldest live music venue. Clem Jaskot, Jr. with his wife runs the Musical Inn today. Clem Jaskot, Sr. passed away in 1997 and Phyllis Jaskot died at 93 years old in November 2020.
When the bar was founded, and throughout the 1950s, it sat on a strip known as “Polish Broadway” that boasted several polka music taverns. Phyllis’ is located on the corner of Division and Wood between Ashland and Western Avenues in Wicker Park, and was a companion bar to the Rainbo Club, Czar Bar, The Lucky Stop, and many others in the neighborhood.
In the 1950s, Chicago writer Nelson Algren lived steps away from Phyllis’s across the street at 1815 W. Division above Louis Miller & Son hardware store. In the much gentrified Wicker Park neighborhood that building, like many others of the mid-20th century and earlier, is gone.
The Jaskots met in Chicago— Clem was from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin and Phyllis was a coal-miner’s daughter from Pennsylvania. Phyllis arrived into town with her suitcase and accordion.
By the mid-1970s Clem Sr. and Phyllis ceased their live polka music. Starting in the mid1980s, the Musical Inn became a place for a range of popular contemporary music as well as starting a tradition of Tuesday night open-mike poetry slams, and art shows.
Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, March 2010.
George Herman “Babe” Ruth was born on Emory Street in Baltimore’s Pigtown neighborhood on February 6, 1895, the first son of George and Kate Ruth.
At 7 years old, Babe Ruth was sent to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, a strict but fair boarding school for disadvantaged youth run by the Xavierian Brothers only 4 miles from the Ruth home in Pigtown. In addition to schooling, vocational training and personal discipline, the brothers taught Babe the game of baseball. Soon, Ruth was the school’s star pitcher. Though St. Mary’s closed in 1950, the field where the young Ruth first played ball can still be visited. Enthusiastic local press clippings in 1912 and 1913 drew the attention of the Orioles who signed a 19-year-old Ruth in 1914 to a $600 contract (about $16,000 today) to play pro baseball.
After he joined the Yankees in 1920, Babe Ruth went on to become baseball’s greatest slugger and one of the game’s most iconic athletes. His 1921 season may be the greatest in the history of major league baseball: that year Babe Ruth blasted a new record of 59 homeruns, batted in 171 RBI’s, scored 177 runs, had a batting average of .376 and an unprecedented .846 slugging percentage. The babe’s popularity made him a superstar and when the Yankees moved into a new stadium in 1923, it was known as “The House that Ruth Built.”
Babe Ruth, star pitcher, St. Mary’s Baltimore, 1912.
Baltimore’s Pigtown (a.k.a. Washington Village), Emory and Portland Streets, March 2010.
Baltimore’s Pigtown, just steps from Oriole Park at Camden Yards, is a 19th-century, immigrant, working-class neighborhood. In 1827, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was founded in Baltimore on an 18th century plantation that became Pigtown. The blue collar culture of Pigtown began with the railroad workers in the backdrop of American intra-emigration and European immigrants who arrived to the major industrial city of Baltimore and opened shops and saloons in the neighborhood.
The Pickwick Theater Building, 1928, Zook & McCaughey, 3-11 South Prospect Avenue, 6-12 South Northwest Highway, downtown Park Ridge, Illinois, April 2015.
The Art Deco movie palace opened in 1928. Originally, the theater had a seating capacity of 1,450. The tower is 100 feet tall and capped by an ornamental iron lantern. The theater building was designed by architectural partners R. Harold Zook (1889-1949) and younger William F. McCaughey who both apprenticed under Howard Van Doren Shaw (1869-1926), a leader in the American Craftsman movement. Zook and McCaughey did significant work in Park Ridge as well as other affluent Chicago suburbs.
The building is noted for its Art Deco style of architecture, defined by an emphasis on geometric designs, bright colors, and a range of ornament and motifs. Sculptor and designer Alfonso Iannelli (1888-1965) maintained a studio and home in Park Ridge. Iannelli contributed much to the Pickwick’s interior architecture and ornamentation. The Pickwick Theater Building’s marquee is one of the most recognized structures in Park Ridge. It was also seen on syndicated television as it was in the opening sequence for “At the Movies” with Siskel & Ebert in 1983. (See it here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hAKkYQKIVs)
The building was placed on the National register of Historic Places in 1975.