LFPF History

In April 1976, the five members of the Historic Sites Committee of the Historical Society recognized that Lake Forest's historic visual character was threatened. These members met with Paul E. Sprague, Ph.D., a State of Illinois preservation consultant, who had been recommended by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Dr. Sprague suggested that a separate organization be established for the sole purpose of preservation. He submitted a proposal in December 1976, and accordingly the five members of the Historic Sites Committee chartered the Foundation in August 1976. Dr. Sprague also provided a list of suggested activities for 1977.

Following are excerpts from Dr. Sprague's final report, dated June 30, 1982.


Part 1: A Short History of Estate Development in Lake Forest

With the coming of the railroad, it became possible for the residents of growing urban centers like Chicago to live in the country while working in the city. Daily commuting to the close-in suburban communities of Hyde Park, Oak Park and Evanston seems to have begun almost as soon as rail service was established.

In the case of Lake Forest, however, its relatively greater distance from Chicago inhibited its growth as a commuter suburb until well into the twentieth century. Instead, it evolved as a place of refuge for Chicago residents during the summer time, and also to some extent on weekends. At the same time, Lake Forest became a suburban town of permanent residents. Read the full text »


Part 2: The Historical Significance of the Lake Forest Estates

Lake Forest's claim to historic distinction rests on many factors both physical and social. It is a suburban town begun primarily to support the establishment of a church-related educational institution. Few suburban towns have been founded for such a purpose. A part of the present city is distinctive physically not only because of its picturesque street plan but as well because of the early date when it was laid out.

Of the suburban communities in America that were planned in the nineteenth century according to the picturesque principles worked out for English gardens and American rural cemeteries and parks, Lake Forest is one of the very earliest, coming only five years after the first such town in America, Llewellyn Park, NJ., founded in 1852. Read the full text »