211 Prospect Avenue, Elmhurst
On December 7th, 2008, the Elmhurst Park District hosted a grand re-opening gala and public open house to celebrate the renovation of this 1868 structure, which served as the city’s library from 1922 to 2003. The celebration came just three years after the then-vacant structure landed on Landmarks Illinois 2006-07 Chicagoland Watch List.
After the public library vacated the Civil War-era mansion for a new building, Wilder was abandoned for three years, despite stated plans to transfer it to the city’s park district for conversion to a multi-use facility. After the building was transferred to the park district, park district officials were non-committal and city officials discussed demolition as an option. Residents rallied park district officials to keep the building and renovate it for public use, as had been overwhelmingly supported in previous public input meetings. Listing on the Chicagoland Watch List brought additional public pressure on park district officials to proceed with the wishes of the community. The renovated building, which will be operated by the Park District, will be used for rentals and special events. “The placement of the mansion on the Watch List,” noted local advocate Paula Pezza, “helped convince city officials that we could not throw away this glorious building, which has been a beloved local landmark for generations.”