by Mary Trieschmann, WHS Executive Director
The Winnetka Historical Society (WHS) turns 90 this year and what a journey it has had! In 1932, a small group of Winnetkans interested in preserving history decided to organize WHS. In its first year, founding member Frank Windes
described the organization’s general mission: “Let us find out all we can, preserve all we can, and hand down all we can to the future generations for their help and guidance.” In the early years, WHS members gathered to give papers on Winnetka history through personal reminiscences, retelling of lore and sharing their treasures.
Windes was the longtime custodian of the WHS collection. At first it was stored in his basement, and later in the fireproof vaults at his engineering office. In 1941, WHS was chartered as a not-for-profit corporation, and by 1943 four chests of artifacts were stored in vaults at the Winnetka Trust & Savings Bank. Later, the collection was stored in a basement room in the public library. Then, in 1987, the growing collection was housed in the shuttered Skokie School.
In 2004, WHS found a new home at 411 Linden Street in a c. 1857 Victorian which is now a Winnetka designated landmark! This building currently houses staff offices, exhibits, a research library, and over 30,000 artifacts in a climate-controlled space including photographs, documents, historic items, books, and more.
The house at 411 Linden was purchased through donations from passionate Winnetkans who truly cared about the mission to honor and preserve the Village’s heritage, gather and share the artifacts and stories of its past, and foster meaningful connections among Winnetkans and the broader community.