Gazette Article by: Bean Carroll
Appeared in the Gazette: Fall/Winter 2003
Several years ago when the Minnesota Historical Society reopened its exhibit area, a unique approach was taken to interpret its history from “A to Z.” Various objects and topics were depicted by “letters,” and visitors moved through the gallery “alphabetically.” The editorial board of the Winnetka Historical Society Gazette has decided to adopt a similar technique and has added a new feature, “WINNETKA HISTORY: A to Z.”
In 1995, the editorial board of the Gazette decided to add a feature that allowed Winnetkans to “walk” through the history of town following their ABCs. This year, we have finally reached the end of the alphabet. In discussing what to write, we thought of Zamboni, Zoo, Zenith, Zambia and more, but none seemed to fit our needs. We decided to end with an overview of past articles. Thus, Z is for Zed, or the end.
The first article was about Academy Hall. It was built in 1870 and remained the Village’s main school until 1899 when Horace Mann School opened. Academy Hall no longer exists, having been demolished in 1964 to make way for a new Public Safety Building. According to the article’s author, Trish Early, Academy Hall epitomized the qualities we equate with Winnetka, including excellence in education, architectural heritage and community spirit. What better place to begin this “walk” than in school.
The next article was about the Burnham Log House, written by Trish Early in June of 1995. Early discusses the history of the log house and gives a brief history of the families that owned it. It is wonderful to note that at this point, the house has finally completed the journey to its new location and is now under the ownership and stewardship of the Historical Society.
Subsequent articles chronicle the early history of Winnetka and tell many interesting facts about our town. For example, one article describes John Happ, who named the township for his home in Trier, Germany. Happ established a blacksmith shop on the Green Bay Trail, at a location that is the corner of Maple and Elm Streets. Farmers from the west of the Village used what is now Elm Street, but at the time was a country road, to visit the blacksmith shop. The news and mail brought by coaches also used this route. As a result of the traffic to Happ’s blacksmith shop, the Chicago and Milwaukee Railroad depot was located on Elm Street.
The journey continues with articles about the Community House, Kinney Shoes and town meetings. There are articles about individuals who were important to Winnetka, such as Frank Windes, Quincy Lamartine Dowd and William Gold Hibbard. Many interesting facts can be found in articles concerning the Green Bay Trail, the power plant and neighborhood circles. All these articles can be found on the Winnetka Historical Society web site at www.winnetkahistory.org. For a Village the size of Winnetka, it is amazing to discover so many interesting facts. Though we have come to the end of our alphabet, we must decide whether to begin again. Should we end with Zed or do we start over?