Since 1966, the Highland Park Historical Society has been fulfilling the role of preserving, discovering and sharing…More history of this upscale North Shore town. Here's one fact that is in the organization's archive: Elisha Gray, a telephone inventor known as the direct competitor of Alexander Graham Bell , grew up in Highland Park. And did you know that the red Ferrari scene of the 1986 cult movie, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" was filmed here? In fact, the society sponsored an architectural tour in 2009 featuring the house in that scene.
In 1969, the society found its permanent home in the two-story Italianate Victorian house donated the year before, by long-time resident Jean Butz James. The house, now also a museum, was built in 1871, the same year as the Great Chicago Fire. Two years prior to that, Highland Park was incorporated as a town.
The museum's collection includes a beautifully-preserved Victorian-era study table, an elaborately designed Chicago piano and an old typewriter. It also features a beautifully-restored parlor and kitchen reflecting the Victorian era.
"We have so much to share with the world," said Linda Marshall, program and development director of the museum. Marshall said initial efforts are underway to digitize the museum's files, including old pictures of Highland Park, and it's historic Laurel and Prospect district, where many of the oldest houses still stand. The history of Ravinia Park, the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is also preserved here.
Last year, on its 40th year anniversary, the society honored its long-time resident and world-famous athlete Michael Jordan to the Hall of Fame. Former CIA director, Admiral Stansfield Turner was also inducted.
The Highland Park Historical Society also sponsors an annual guided architectural tour and special exhibitions. It also provides information about the historic houses in town.