By Joe Boyle
George Peso was hard at work on Monday afternoon, but did have some time to comment on a project long in the making for Evergreen Park.
“Everything is fine,” said Peso about the opening of the historical exhibit marking the 125th anniversary of the Village of Evergreen Park. “We started early this morning and we are getting some of the displays up right now. We built all this stuff and it took us 18 months to do it. But everything is going well.”
Peso is the chairman of the Evergreen Park Historical Commission. He is in the process this week of preparing for the opening of the 125th Anniversary Historical Exhibit that opens Monday, Aug. 6 at the Evergreen Park Senior Center, 9547 S. Homan Ave. The two-week display will be located in the second-floor auditorium. Ample parking is available and the Senior Center is fully accessible with an elevator, according to commission members.
“The Historical Commission has been collecting photos and artifacts for over 10 years in anticipation of this anniversary,” said Peso, who is a retired contractor and has lived in Evergreen Park since 1955.
Peso and former Evergreen Park Trustee Jerry Bosch created the Historical Commission 15 years ago. Bosch was active in the planning state of the village’s anniversary until his death this year. He was the initial chairman of the Historical Commission.
“Our neighbors will be able to walk through this exhibit and revisit our history as a farming community, growing into the vibrant village that we are,” Peso continued. “It’s all here. . .the things you remembered growing up; the Plaza, the Golf Course, the Martinique, Aqua Park, and so many of the businesses gone by.”
The display will be open Monday through Friday from noon to 2 p.m., then again from 5 to 8 p.m. The two Saturdays will be open from noon to 3 p.m. Admission is free and the Senior Center is air-conditioned.
The History Book Committee of the Historical Commission will be selling its book “Arriving and Thriving at 125” in the auditorium as well. The final day of the display is Saturday, Aug. 18.
At 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, members of the Evergreen Park Recreation Department Candlelight Theatre Company will perform, in period costume, selected readings from personal narratives written years ago by Evergreen Park’s then longtime residents, capturing the drama of a growing village.
The commission held an archive collection event last October. Peso said the turnout was more than adequate. He said that a lot of people came out to show their mementos but not to donate them.
“They came because these items were important to them,” Peso said. “Some others just wanted to donate the items but want them back later. That’s fine with us. It was nice to see people interested.”
But Peso and commission members did point out that they have many artifacts from the past that present and former Evergreen Park residents will recognize at the exhibit. Many of those objects include relics from the old Evergreen Plaza, photos and artifacts from Little Company of Mary Hospital, and bowling pins that were once used at old Bleeker’s Bowl.
The village was incorporated on Dec. 20, 1893 and has progressed from a series of truck farms into a municipality with a population of 20,000. The early founders of Evergreen Park chose the name because of the numerous pine trees that were found in what would later be called Klein Park, or Circle Park, at 97th Street and Homan Avenue.
More information can be found at www.evergreenpark-ill.com. The Evergreen Park Library also maintains a history archive at www.evergreenparklibrary.org.