Market Square – Lake Forest, IL

Part IV – DAR Plaque Recognizing First Shopping Center Status

Market Square_LFIL III

Market Square

“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness.”

John Keats, English poet  (1795 – 1821) Endymion (1818)

As you stand by the Market Square fountain and look west, walk to the left to find a bronze plaque nestled beneath a boxwood hedge.  It reads:

“Historic Landmark

In recognition of Market Square, established 1916, the first unified and artfully designed shopping center in this country, and in acknowledgement of its historic and cultural contribution to the community, this plaque is dedicated to Arthur T.  Aldis and Howard Van Doren Shaw, who with foresight created this historic landmark.

North Shore Chapter, National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution

May 12, 1984″

In 1911 or 1912, Arthur T. Aldis, a businessman and real estate expert, along with his friend Howard Van Doren Shaw, an architect, formed a plan that was to become Market Square.  Fundraising began to start the project.  As payment for his design work on the project, Shaw agreed to accept shares from the Trust being formed.

John Griffith was engaged as the real estate agent who bought property for the scheme.  Land was acquired in phases and a board was formed January 13, 1913.  Trustees were named to the Lake Forest Improvement Trust.  Board members were: Arthur T. Aldis, D. Mark Cummings, John V. Farwell, Jr., David B. Jones and Cyrus H. McCormick.

Some setbacks were encountered.  More money was needed and it took an additional two years to raise $100,000 and plan a bond issue.

Ground was broken in September, 1915.  As individual shops were completed, occupants moved in and opened for business.  Many stores opened in 1916.  The project was completed in approximately 1 1/2 years.  Businesses located around the horseshoe have changed over time, but, Market Square continues as a venue where shoppers can buy quality goods in pleasant surroundings.  This isn’t an average shopping center!

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Market Square – Lake Forest, IL

Part III – Market Square Fountain and Statue

Market Square_LFIL IV

“Architecture in general is frozen music.”

Friedrich von Schelling, German philosopher  (1775 – 1854)  Philosophie der Kunst (1809)

Splashing water in Market Square’s fountain attracts passersby to dip a hand into the pool or observe song birds indulging in a quick bath.  The stone eagles and shields at the base support the bowl that is the source of the spilling water.

At the top of the fountain observe the statue “Girl with Baby on Shoulder”.  It is the work of Sylvia Shaw Judson, Howard Van Doren Shaw’s daughter.  Sylvia fulfilled a promise to her father to place a piece of her art atop the fountain.  Although models were made, the topmost point of the fountain was vacant until the conclusion of the Vietnam War.  Sylvia died in 1978.

The statue was dedicated August 12, 1982.

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Market Square – Lake Forest,IL

Part II – Market Square Flagpole and Base

Market Square Flagpole

“We are glad to fight for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its people.”

Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States  (1856 – 1924)

The concrete base of the flagpole in Market Square bears the inscription, above, on the north side.

A local resident of the time, F.P. Smith, worked with Wire and Iron Works of Chicago to create this design.  It was delivered and erected on the site for $3.80/lineal foot.

Troops and Home Guards were present at the 1917 dedication ceremony as was a band from the Army base at Ft. Sheridan.  Words inscribed on the south portion of the base read: “Dedicated to the men of Lake Forest who give themselves for the safety of their country and the world.”

Lake Forest lost 16 residents in World War I.  Ten died from disease and six died in battle.  Their collective sacrifice is remembered in the words memorialized on the base of the flagpole in Market Square.

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Market Square – Lake Forest, IL

Market Square_LFIL IIThe reward of a thing well done, is to have done it.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nominalist and Realist, in Essays: Second Series, 1844

724 N. Western Ave., Lake Forest, IL 60045


Many guidebooks would identify this place as “Historic Market Square”.  And that would be correct.  The central open green space, in addition to the pleasant surroundings, can’t help but draw the visitor to this site.  Market Square has a distinctly Old World European feel that mixes architectural styles to form a unique whole.

Almost one hundred years of history can be linked to this spot.  Locals see a downtown shopping area.  However, when one looks beyond the obvious, there is so much more to observe.  Now, step back to 1915 where this development has its foundation.

In the early 20th Century, the downtown area was populated by dilapidated buildings.  With the goal of upgrading and beautifying the city’s business center, the Lake Forest Improvement Trust was created.  The project was funded commercially and not by civic building.  Howard Van Doren Shaw (1869 – 1926) was selected to design the space.  He lived in Lake Forest on Green Bay Road in a residence named Ragdale.  Later in his career, Shaw was the recipient of a gold medal presented by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).  A tablet on the decorative fountain at the east end of the Square honors Shaw’s design and plan.

Shaw planned to accommodate motorized vehicles in the Square.  It was to become an example for future town centers.  Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Market Square has been recognized as the first shopping center in the United States.

Building was completed in 1916.  First National Bank of Lake Forest anchored the west end of the Square.  In 1931 Marshall Field & Company moved into the bank’s former location.  The bank had constructed a structure on Bank Lane & Deerpath and relocated their operations.  In the beginning, apartments were located above the shops.  The apartments have now been converted into offices as the space has evolved.

Market Square is closed on three sides, forming a horseshoe.  The best view is from the eastern end looking westward.  The Metra station that serves the east side of Lake Forest is on the opposite side of Western Avenue.  Clever use of space allows a glimpse of the picturesque square from the train as it stops or passes.  That quick look could be enough to spur a return trip to see more and possibly do some shopping.  That good marketing strategy works as well today as it did in days gone by.

The view isn’t quite as striking if you enter from the west but is beautiful nonetheless.  Driving in means entry from North Gate, Bank Lane or Western Avenue.  Exit via South Gate, Bank Lane or Western Avenue.  An expanse of green in the city center is refreshing, inviting people to gather and linger.  A flagpole and the aforementioned fountain are centerpieces on the open lawn.  There are eight benches to sit and relax to the gentle sounds of water in the fountain, in season.  The flagpole was dedicated in 1917 honoring local men who served in World War I.

Be sure to look up at the pair of brick towers.  The South Tower is capped by a copper dome, cupola and a weathervane at the apex.  On three sides copper Roman numerals form clock faces and the clocks do tell time.  A small balcony is located under each clock.  The North Tower has a sundial on the south face in full view of the Square.  This tower has a glass cupola with a copper top and its own weathervane.

This is a place where the merchants would like you to shop as you absorb the historical splendor.  Two directories, complete with maps, are posted at key points as you enter on foot.  A framed 2012 Directory is mounted on the wall of Lake Forest Book Store to the southeast.  The other may be found on the side of the Megan Winters boutique at Forest & South Gate on the southwest.

There is a blend of chain stores and local shops.  Familiar names such as bluemercury, J. Crew, Talbots and Williams-Sonoma are in Market Square.  Forest Bootery sells shoes, Kiddle’s has sporting goods and The Lake Forest Shop offers ladies apparel.  Use the map to branch out and locate restaurants, gift shops and service businesses just a stroll away.  If you love to shop, Market Square is for you.

Anyone with an interest in architecture, city planning or landscape design would enjoy an outing in Lake Forest touring Market Square.

Further Reading:

Arpee, Edward. Lake Forest Illinois, History and Reminiscences 1861 – 1961.  Rotary Club of Lake Forest, 1963.

Dart, Susan. Market Square.  Lake Forest – Lake Bluff Historical Society, 1984.

Kelsey, Susan L. and Paddock, Shirley M.  Downtown Lake Forest, Then & Now.  Arcadia Publishing, 2009.

More Information:

Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber of Commerce

Lake Forest – Lake Bluff Historical Society

Lake County, Illinois, CVB

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Heller Nature Center – Highland Park

2821 Ridge Rd., Highland Park, IL 60035

“Every Plant has fitness and must be placed in its proper surroundings so as to bring out its full beauty.  Therein lies the art of landscaping.”

Jens Jensen (1860-1951  Danish-American landscape architect)

A colleague clued me in about the Heller Nature Center and provided me with the address.  That was key as the entry is easy to pass.  It is part of the Park District of Highland Park.  A quiet suburban enclave set on 97 acres, this is a location where a visitor can appreciate the simplicity of natural beauty.  Be sure to see both the indoor and outdoor attractions for a full experience.

The site has a connection to Jens Jensen who was a Highland Park resident.  A few facts about Jensen are in order at this point.  Born in Slesvig, Denmark to a wealthy farming family, he developed a love of nature in his early years.  He emigrated to America and was influential in creation of the Chicago park system.  Jensen’s style was to use open spaces, light and shadow and native plants to advantage in natural surroundings.

The Goodman Log Cabin is situated on this property.  In 1926 Jensen designed and supervised construction of the log cabin as a playhouse for the children of Irene K. and Benedict K. Goodman.  Later, the cabin was a gift to the Park District of Highland Park.  Moved to Heller in 1981, it currently houses wildlife displays.  Enter and note the fine stone fireplace opposite the front door.

Turning to the outside, three miles of pathways invite a walk.  Paths are color coded and outlined on maps posted along the routes.  There are four gravel trails.  Two are marked as wheelchair accessible but may not appeal to everyone.

aqua – 3/8 mile loop around the Nature Center (wheelchair)

red – 1 mile full loop to the north

gold – 1/2 mile loop to the south

blue – 5/8 mile to the pond & return (wheelchair)

The trails lead to wetlands, stands of hickory, oak and pine trees, oak savannas plus tall grass prairies.  Color coded markers nailed to posts guide the way.

Bee hives are in a clearing a short distance from the log cabin.  The bees pollinate plants in the park.  A group of volunteer beekeepers tend the apiary and harvest the honey.  Proceeds from the honey sales support the beekeeping activities and educational programs.  Honey from the 2011 season has sold out with the next harvest expected in August 2012.  Consult the calendar of events for upcoming events with the beekeepers.

Following the trail, you may pass the Council Ring.  Not too far beyond this point I observed a plaque on a tree cautioning against tree trimming.  This was a spot favored by nesting birds.

Turning to the nature center building, step inside to view the interpretive displays about the eco-systems found on the grounds.  A 450-gallon fish tank features native fish species and aquatic vegetation.  See a bee colony between glass panels or read information about local birds and hear their recorded calls.  The information is of interest to all age groups.

Amenities in the building are washrooms, water fountains with cold water as well as a beverage vending machine.  It offered a respite on a very warm day.

A Nature Art Show in the multipurpose room is running through the end of July 2012.  The photography of Kris Schroeder is on display and offered for sale.  Website:

The Heller Nature Center is a hidden treasure.


Leashed pets are permitted.  Waste must be removed – mitts provided.

There is ample parking & a bike rack.

The grounds have two modest picnic areas.

A 3-level water fountain outside the south end of the nature center is available for people and pets.  The lowest level is suitable for dogs.

In winter, cross-country skis are available for rental.

More Information:

Grounds Open: dawn to dusk daily

Nature Center Hrs: M-F 8:30 AM-5:00 PM, Sat. 9:00 AM-3:00 PM

Park District of Highland Park –

Heller Nature Center –

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Fort Sheridan Post Cemetery – Fort Sheridan, IL

“Look at an infantryman’s eyes, and you can tell how much war he has seen.”

Bill Mauldin, Up Front, 1945  (1921 – 2003 WW II cartoonist and infantryman)

Fort Sheridan Post Cemetery, Vattner Rd., Fort Sheridan, IL 60037

For more than 30 years I have passed the cemetery entrance on Sheridan Rd. without making the turn to go inside.  This past Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, 2012, I went to the Memorial Day Service.  It was well attended.  An Army service member in uniform thanked visitors for coming.  Many people thanked him.

Amplification was a bit soft where I stood.  In his speech, the Post Commander mentioned this was originally known as Decoration Day.  Following the American Civil War, the purpose was to remember those who died in service.  The generally accepted date of the first observance  was May 30, 1868.  That date was selected since it wasn’t a battle anniversary.  May flowers decorated grave sites.  Wikipedia states the name of the holiday was officially changed to “Memorial Day” May 30, 1967.  It is celebrated the last Monday in May.

Civil War veterans are buried in this cemetery.  I wanted to seek out those graves.  Surprisingly, the cemetery is an oval shape.  The cemetery opened in 1889 with the first burial taking place in October, 1890.  Edward Quinn of the 15th Infantry was that first burial.

A few key facts about Fort Sheridan should be mentioned at this point.  The post opened in 1887 and closed in 1993.  It is now an Army Reserve location.  This is a Post Cemetery owned and operated by the US Department of the Army.  The Federal Government holds perpetual ownership.  Maintenance is done by contracted responsibility with the Lake County Forest Preserve District.  There are more than 2,000 burials.  Retired service members and their spouses, from any of the five branches of service, may be buried at this site.

Headstones are a snapshot of a person’s life.  This is so much more to be known about the individual beyond the name, rank and dates.  I asked some of the military personnel to direct me to the oldest part of the cemetery.  I learned the man who kept the cemetery records was present and could help me.

Introducing myself to Mr. Joe Rafferty, Cemetery Supervisor, he graciously shared his knowledge.  Mr. Rafferty was the last supervisor to exit when the post closed.  He assumed a variety of duties including keeping the cemetery records.  We made a short tour.

Veterans who fought for the Union are interred here.  The majority of those graves are located in Sections 5 and 6.  The Civil War shield on the monuments of that era are an easy identifier.

We walked to the south, to Section 7, to a headstone for Ervin C. Staples, PFC, US Army.  The marker is the first on the left in the front row.  Dates read 10-14-14 to 12-25-44.  Mr. Rafferty told me more of this man’s story.  It illustrated the high cost of war.  During WW II, PFC Staples was at the Battle of the Bulge in Malmedy, Belgium.  In addition to heavy fighting, the Malmedy Massacre took place on December 17, 1944.  German captors murdered 84 US POWs.  PFC Staples was killed in the bombing of the Hotel Nicolet in Malmedy.  No remains or personal effects were recovered.  Thus, when you look closer, you observe this is a memorial.

Knowing I had come to view Civil War graves and older burials, Mr. Rafferty asked if I was interested in the Battle of Little Big Horn.  I said “yes”.  The battle took place in Big Horn County, Montana on June 25th and 26th, 1876.  Commonly known as “Custer’s Last Stand”, US 7th Cavalry members were combatants.

In Section 5 in the 3rd row from the front, 4th grave on the right is the gravestone of Michael Keegan, PVT CO L, 7 US CAV, Indian Wars.  The single date reads “JUL 10 1900”.  Mr. Rafferty said Pvt. Keegan survived the battle because he was guarding supply wagons about 50 miles away.  Three other soldiers who survived this battle are also buried here.  Their names are included in the short history at the entrance.  I didn’t see those graves.

Lastly, in Section 13 in the back row are nine graves of German POWs.  Most were captured in North Africa in WWII.  During WWII, Fort Sheridan was the Administration Center for POW camps in Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.  On Memorial Day this row appeared very separate.  American flags were stuck in the earth beside the gravestone of each US veteran.  These were barren.  It was a stark reminder there are two sides to every conflict and not all mortal remains are returned to a soldier’s homeland.

Information from Mr. Rafferty added the element of humanity to a solemn site.  Today, volunteers enlist for military service.  Freedom comes at a heavy price.  We should honor veterans more frequently for all their sacrifices.  This cemetery is well worth a visit.

Notes:  Stop and read the information contained in the permanent displays to the right of  the entry gates.

Parking – on the lanes in the cemetery.

More Information: Map and Facts –

Lake County Forest Preserves –

Lake County, Illinois, CVB –

Hours:  Open Daily: 8 AM – 5 PM      Memorial Day: 8 AM – 7 PM

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Cook Memorial Park and Rose Garden – Libertyville, IL

413 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Libertyville, IL 60048

This garden is the subject of my first blog posting.  It is a well tended place of growth and beauty.  My goal is for this blog to bloom and flourish.

Libertyville is a bit west of the traditional North Shore communities that hug Lake Michigan’s shoreline.  However, I feel justified in my choice.  About a year ago, a destination grocery store opened on Milwaukee Avenue in Vernon Hills.  This store has no lack of customers.  Stickers on the windshields of patrons’ cars are from communities around Lake County and beyond.  I’m confident these shoppers would drive a few miles north on Milwaukee Avenue to visit this garden.

Situated on 1.7 acres in downtown Libertyville’s Heritage Area, this park is a centerpiece for many events in the village throughout the year.  In season, the colors and fragrance of the garden are unmistakable.  With the unusually warm spring, the roses opened early. The day of my walk, bees were busy pollenating the flowers.  Some small children were delighted.

The Ansel B. Cook house is on the western edge of the property.  The park is on the front lawn with rose beds planted to the north and south.

There are four flower beds on the north side.  The smallest triangle contains a metal plaque dated 1995.  It reads, “All-America Rose Selections, Inc.” with this site receiving a Public Rose Garden Award for an outstanding public rose garden.  The three southern beds are planted in the general shape of a “D”.  For full color impact, about 20 rose bushes, per variety, are planted together.  Grass paths between the flower beds resemble mini mazes.  It encourages the viewer to slow the pace and wander.

Follow the angled walkway past the southern patch towards Milwaukee Avenue.  Locate a Blue Star Memorial marker placed as a tribute to the Armed Forces.  Sponsors include Town & Country Garden Club of Libertyville in co-operation with American Legion #329 VFW #8741 and the Village of Libertyville.

Pressed for time?  The walk can be completed in 10 minutes.  Picnic tables and fixed seating in the park are available for a meal or snack if you can linger.  Lovin Oven Cakery and The Picnic Basket are within easy walking distance.  Starbucks Coffee is one block north.  Mickey Finn’s is directly across the street.  Area shops are part of the “Shop 60048” campaign.  There are many places to see around the park depending on your time and interests.

A playground is located on the south end adjacent to the mansion.  It is open from 6AM – 9:30 PM.

All ages will enjoy a ramble among the roses.

Parking: On street – around the park’s perimeter.  Public Parking Lots – to the north or south.

More Information:

Cook Park & Village of Libertyville:

GLMV Chamber of Commerce:

Lake County, Illinois, CVB:

Upcoming Event:

Libertyville Days Festival 2012 – Thursday 6/14 to Sunday 6/17.

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“Most people would succe…

“Most people would succeed in small things, if they were not so troubled by great ambitions.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Driftwood, 1857

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Explore North Shore – About the Blog

Every community has points of interest.  When you are part of a military family, that’s a lesson quickly learned.  Moving was a certainty.  While there were regrets about leaving what was familiar, there was excitement about going to fresh surroundings.  I have literally been “the new kid in town”.

Exploring became second nature.  Open your eyes to sites you may have overlooked.  Plan a visit to a local landmark.  Make a spur of the moment stop.  Pleasant surprises await.

Earlier in my career, I had an extended assignment in Manhattan with a publisher.  Hours were long and free time was limited.  Colleagues based in the NYC area shared ideas about free places worth visiting.  These included buildings, monuments and parks off the beaten path.  Their time-saving advice allowed me to make informed choices.  With a destination in mind, I was able to maximize my sightseeing.

A seed was planted in my mind. I will write about attractions and events in Chicago’s northern suburbs.  Growth has blurred boundaries from the past.  In my view, the North Shore begins in Evanston and extends upwards to the Wisconsin border.

Highlights of things to do will be the focus of this blog.  Don’t postpone exploration to a vague “someday”…do it now!  Most importantly, thank you for reading Explore North Shore.

Susan J. Anderson

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