What is the 1950s Park Forest House Museum?
The 1950s Park Forest House Museum interprets an original home, built in 1947-1949 by American Community Builders. It is furnished as it might have been from 1948-1953, the first five years of tenant occupancy. A museum visit is a great way to get acquainted with Park Forest, Illinois' unique history as the first fully-planned, post-World War II suburb. Designed to provide housing for returning World War II veterans and their families, it has come to be known as, "America's Original GI Town."
The museum provides a nostalgic trip down Memory Lane for anyone who lived in the 1950s or 1960s, or for those interested in that period. Visitors are encouraged to open drawers, cupboard and closets to discover period treasures inside. Contents of the house, furnished as though a young veteran and his family of small children occupy it, include dolls, toys, dollhouses, books, dishes, serving pieces, furniture and clothing from the period. When is the last time you said, "Hello," to Howdy Doody?
One room represents a classroom in the first school, Forest Boulevard School, set up by the developers in a row of converted townhomes.
The museum is decorated for a 1950s Christmas in December, and with Valentines in February, including a 1950s Valentine's Day party in the classroom. Easter baskets with period books, candy and decorations are on display in the spring. For October, Halloween Gurley candles are on display, along with a period witch costume. Seasonal touches are put out throughout the year.
A guide will tell the story of how Park Forest came to be, along with social and fashion trends of the early 1950s. Photographs and rental brochures, magazine and newspaper articles are available here. A self-guided tour script is available. A driving tour of Park Forest can be borrowed with a $5 deposit. Copies of the tour are available for purchase at $5.
We are open at 227 Monee Road (in St. Mary's Catholic Church), Park Forest, IL 60466. We are closed in January. We hope you enjoy our online tour and will come visit in person, soon.