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Posts Tagged ‘Riverside Illinois’

IMG_8077As with many adventures, ours began in a train station; the Riverside train station, to be exact. A group of 23 garden club members met in this historic depot for a customized tour of six private gardens, led by several docents of the Frederick Law Olmsted Society.

The entire town of Riverside, formed in 1868, was designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The entire town of Riverside has a National Historic Landmark designation and is often referred to as the town in a forest. The quaint downtown with its unique tower is the centerpiece of Riverside; a town with gently winding streets, a variety of stately trees and boulevards that meander, much like the nearby Des Plaines River,  down charming lanes reminiscent of another era and past homes designed by noted architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright.

Frederick Law Olmsted is widely regarded as the founder of American landscape architecture.

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Our tour was arranged by the conservation and education committee as we wrapped up our garden club’s 90th anniversary year. We were hoping to see how a town can develop in harmony with nature. We decided to tour Riverside (the past) and visit a relatively new enterprise in nearby Brookfield, Root 66. The owner of Root 66 gave us a program on hydroponics and aquaponics (the future) at our June meeting.

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As we “motored in our machines” to the gardens, our cars in procession, hazard lights blinking, racing through town at about 20 mph, we must have looked like a funeral procession. Some of the gardens were more fitting to the architecture and era of the home with prairie type plantings and natives, while others were more precise and controlled. We viewed the grounds of the Avery Coonley Playhouse, designed by Wright, as well as five other gardens.

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I found it to be a delightful and inspiring adventure, tired but smiling as I got back into my car at the Riverside train station, where our adventure began.

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One of my favorite area libraries is in a picturesque suburb a few miles outside of the Chicago city limits. The entire town of Riverside has been on the National Historic Landmark for some forty years and is sometimes referred to as the town inside a forest. Stately trees and winding streets take motorists past homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and his contemporaries. Riverside’s library is among dozens of buildings in Riverside deemed an Illinois Historic Structure. After my “protest” yesterday, and an article in Friday’s Chicago Tribune regarding Riverside, I was eager to return to this historic library. The picture above is just outside the library, whose serene reading room has three walls of windows facing this, the Des Plaines River. I love going there in the winter to feel the warmth of the sun while sitting in the prairie style armchairs overlooking the river.

Riverside was designed by the renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed New York’s Central Park and the Midway Plaisance  of the Chicago Columbian Exposition (have you read The Devil and the White City?)

We parked the car and crunched through the snow, admiring this little snowman along the walk. He didn’t seem at all intimidated by the gargoyles holding court overhead, and the sticks in his hands seemed to point to the entrance, so, off we went to browse the library’s shelves, and see if a fire was roaring in the cozy reading nook inside. Be sure to click on the picture on the right to get a better look at the gargoyles and the leaded windows.

Limestone and wood and more nooks and crannies than a Thomas’ English Muffin fill this library and we each wandered about, finding our favorite genres, trying to quietly click pictures. It is, after all, a library, and while libraries no longer are the quiet places that many of us remember with Madame Librarian shushing even the turning of pages, we did try to be respectful, so, I’ll do the same here. I’ll be quiet and just let you look around at this wonderful library and the area just outside its doors.

Gargoyles . . .

. . . and more gargoyles.

Inside.

Additions to the original 1930 structure were tastefully and historically executed.

A view of the Des Plaines River from inside the reading room.

Just a few yards from the library, a scenic place for children (of all ages) to sled onto the frozen pond.

One of my library picks (okay, okay, I was really judging this book by its cover.) Has anyone read it?

This is chock full of recipes from restaurants along Route 66, from downtown Chicago to Los Angeles. (even Brantville is mentioned, Country Mouse).

Books under arms, cheeks rosy from watching the sledders, and appreciation for this wonderful library, we crunched back to our car, through the snow, appreciating the sunshine – and the thoughtful planning of those who came before us.

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