Berwyn Historical Society set to make move in fall
BERWYN – It's only fitting that the new home of the Berwyn Historical Society has a bit of history itself.
The storefront building, located at 1401 Grove Ave., will replace the rented basement space at North Berwyn Congregational Church, 1241 Oak Park Ave.
Society officials expect to be in the new quarters this fall.
Purchased in 2011, the brick, one-story storefront has gone through a massive restoration, both inside and out, Historical Society chairman David Olson said. A parapet wall was rebuilt and the exterior brick was restored. Windows were also replaced.
A new furnace replaced an old boiler, and a new drain and sump system was installed. Asbestos floor covering was removed and replaced, cast iron pipes were replaced with PVC and some rooms were reconfigured.
The building was a traditional Mom and Pop grocery and meat market from the early 1930s to the 1960s, Olson said. In the 1940s it was the E&E Market, named for Ed and Ella Kubisch.
"It was built with a residence in the back and the store in the front," Olson said. "According to the phone directories in Berwyn from the 1930s, there were as many as 65 neighborhood grocery stores in Berwyn. Almost every neighborhood must have had one. That was the way people shopped. There weren't the large stores you had to drive to."
Today there is still a place for the corner store, Olson said.
There are a number of little corner stores still operating," he sad. "They have the basics people might need."
In it's new use, the store area will be the Society's museum and research center while the living quarters will be used as storage. The kitchen will be utilized for special events held at the space. Eventually, the group hopes to add air conditioning as well.
While most of the work required the skill of area contractors, many volunteers showed up to offer a hand, Olson said.
"Underneath all the grime is a beautiful floor," Olson said. "We're finally realizing the hard work was worth it."
While the Society's address may be changing, it's status as a nonprofit group is not, and as a consequence, it will always depend on the generosity of the community it serves.
The society is looking for help with its monthly $400 mortgage. It is trying to get 20 people to donate $20 per month to cover the mortgage note.
"Right now we have a few, but we could use more," Olson said. "We also have a wish list."
More information on donating is available at www.berwynhistoricalsociety.org.
Support also comes through fundraising events, such as the Bungalows and More tour on Sept. 29. The tour will showcase six homes on Riverside Drive between Oak Park and Harlem avenues.
Tickets will cost $20 in advance and will be available at yet-to-be-announced locations in Berwyn, Oak Park and Forest Park. The cost is $25 at the door, at Trinity Community United Church of Christ, 7022 Riverside Drive.