Memories Announcements

facebookWe are on Facebook!  Become a fan of  "Park Forest Historical Society" and of "1950s Park Forest House Museum!" We have joined Facebook (like us!) and have a Facebook page for the museum (like our museum page!). (Active links are further down the page.) There is a Facebook group, "Grew up in Park Forest".  It formerly had some wonderful memory streams going, but that changed with Facebook's new format.  It is still a place to reconnect with people who grew up here. We still accept memoirs sent to us via email.  We hope to get a "Park Forest Memories " group started sometime to capture those entries, but are looking at other social networking sites.  If you are interested in helping with that, contact us. We have joined Facebook (like us!) and have a Facebook page for the museum (like our museum page!). 

Remember to make a copy of your memory and submit it to us, too.  And, you will notice, you can write a much longer memoir to be put on our website to share with people.

If you see a topic there and want to expand on it, please share it with us!  Remember, many people are not on Facebook and don't read memories, there.  We may know something about your question.

I think the absence of emails to us is a result of the Facebook page, BUT if you have tried and we have not answered your email, please try again and put something in the subject line to draw attention to the fact. I have gotten some legitimate messages but a fraction of what I formerly received. I receive a lot of spam messages. I worry that I am missing some that don't come through as legitimate.


I will be adding the memoirs and sending you emails to let you know that yours is online. Hopefully this will go smoothly. When you get your email, please be sure to notify friends and relatives to come look at our site.

Let us hear from YOU!!

If you are reading and enjoying these memories, (and I can tell that you are by the web statistics) send yours along. You do not need to add your contact information for the website. Please let us know what information you want to include. Your memory can be a few sentences or an essay.  Our Memories stay up for years to come.


Be sure to read our story on this year-long project with South Suburban Genealogical and Historical Society.  Our program on September 20 will be on this. Read more in News and Programs. Be sure to contact SSGHS or PFHS if you have any information on farms in the Park Forest area.

Do you have photos of St. Irenaeus School or your class photos from your time there? Please contact us through our link. The Class of 1959 recenetly had a reunion in Chicago and we discovered St. Irenaeus School history files at the church had inadvertently been thrown out. Please help us and St. I's reconstruct the files.

Did you or your family attend St. Anne's Catholic Church before St. Irenaeus was built? We have people looking for history and photographs of the church. Do you know what happened to the original building? The museum has a lovely painting of the church hanging in the bedroom, donated by Terry Ruehl who moved to PF in October 1948 and attended the church. Terry has since moved and passed on. If any of you can help reconstruct the history of St. Anne's please contact us.

On June 13, 2009 thirty-nine or more people came through the museum on a special tour arranged by Jack and Becky Black. The reunion first went on a tour of Rich East High School, then came to the museum on a bus provided by the high school. Everyone enjoyed sharing memories of their years growing up in Park Forest.
We have since had tours for the Classes of 1960, 1962, 1964, 1966, and 1967.
Having a reunion?  Be sure to book your tour of the museum as part of your activities!
Class of 1964 Reunion 

The 1950s Museum is in GroupTour eMagazine, Spring 2013 issue, page 26.  You can download the issue here.

The 1950s Museum was in the Chicago Tribune Metro section on Sunday February 3, 2008. We had a color photo and text on the front page and more photos and text on page 5. If you go to, put "1950s Museum" in the search box, and you can go to the article, but now you have to pay to read it there. If you Search the internet for "1950s Museum" the article should come up in another site where you can read it for free.

Read more ...

Blast To The Past

by Robert Flynn, August 31, 2002

It has been a long time since I lived in Park Forest (1952 - 1967), but I try to make visits to the place I grew up every two to three years. I reminisce about the old times. I was told that in 1946, Matthew Manilow acquired a large number of acres for a future residential development. In 1947, he broke ground on the development and sold his first home in the later part of 1948. I was also told that the first 600 tenants of the original townhouses chose the name "Park Forest" for their town and in 1949, the Village of Park Forest was incorporated. Maybe someone can verify that information for me.

Read more ...

1950s Park Forest & The Monolithic Clock Tower

John Morris Recalls 1950s Park Forest and Ponders the Monolithic Clock Tower, March 31, 2002

My family lived at 9 Elm Street circa 1954, when I was about 6, so my memories are limited. On one side of us lived the Koenig family, and on the other, John and Cathy Hart and children (Johnnie was my playmate.) Cathy Dunbar lived across the court. Our family was friendly with a young lady from Germany named Dagmar something who lived down the court. My dad, John Morris, was in the insurance/fire protection business in the City (now lives with wife Jean in SF Bay area). Jean kept house and tended to me and younger sister June. Some distinct memories are of the first movie I ever attended at the local theater, which was an Abbott and Costello feature. Every noon I would race home from school to catch the "Uncle Johnnie Coons" show on the tube - his theme song was "A Walk In the Black Forest" I think it is called.

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Remembering the Early Years

by Bill Keese, October 2, 2001

My family moved to Park Forest in August, 1954. We lived at 323 Dogwood until October, 1958 when we moved to Houston, Texas. We lived at 323 Dogwood. My four years growing up in Park Forest left a life-long impression on me and were the most influential years of my life. Life was absolutely great in Park Forest. It is a shame every child in America can't experience growing up in a community like Park Forest.

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Growing Up in Park Forest

Lynn Donath Remembers Growing Up in Park Forest October 5, 2001

I have just spent an enjoyable few hours reading about Park Forest - past and present. My family moved to P.F. in 1951. We spent many years on Michael Road, jealously watching the houses going up behind us on Chestnut Street! For a short time we lived on Rocket Circle near the high school, and then to a court on Western Ave. Mostly, I recall the early years of playing outside until dark, loads of kids of all ages everywhere, and the sense of freedom that feeling safe and 'at home' in my community imparted. I can't remember our ever having to lock our doors.

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First 4-Year Graduating Class

A Member of the First 4-Year Graduating Class of Rich Township High School Remembers the Beginning of Park Forest and the First Year of Classes by Elaine Umland-Brownlee: September 15, 2001

Born in 1938, I grew up in the area surrounding Park Forest before there was a Park Forest. My family owned 5 acres in what is now the Lincolnwood section of Park Forest. Sauk Trail was a dirt road then with a few farms dotting its skinny shoulders. Lincoln Highway was paved but was only a two-lane road. It was the route to Chicago Heights for shopping and Saturday afternoon movies. Western Avenue was also paved; it led us to the city of Chicago with a frequent stop in Blue Island for White Castle hamburgers. My father and brother hunted pheasants and trapped muskrats for their pelts in the marshy fields and bogs. We raised turkeys and chickens for sale. Cornfields and daisy-strewn prairies were my playgrounds.

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