Museum and Wandschneider Park Information
Welcome to the Downers Grove Park District Museum
Preserving History's Future! The Downers Grove Park District Museum provides leisure and educational experiences for the community through collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting materials that explain and document the history of Downers Grove and its relationship to local, state, regional and national history.
Make it a Historic Birthday!
Click here to view History Themed Birthday Parties!
To view the calendar for
Museum Events, click here.
The Museum is located near downtown Downers Grove on the grounds of Wandschneider Park in the historic Blodgett House. The gracious Victorian structure was built in 1892 as the 11-room home of the Charles Blodgett family, descendants of one of the Village's first settlers.
Step across the threshold of the Blodgett House for a glimpse of the past. Enter a bygone era when families rested on fainting couches instead of recliners, stored food in iceboxes instead of refrigerators and entertained themselves with parlor games instead of cyber games.
A treasure trove of fascinating facts and fun, the Museum is a great place for a family outing, a resource for local research and a memorable way to spend a part of the day.
Experience your heritage at The Downers Grove Park District Museum. Take a glimpse back into a past which nostalgia has gently etched in our memories. Exercise your mind and expand your knowledge of the community around you. Through varied exhibitions and programs, you'll discover your museum and the history of your village.
Through an agreement between the Downers Grove Park District and the Downers Grove Heritage Preservation Corporation, the 1846 Blodgett House was relocated onto the Museum campus in 2008. The 1846 Blodgett House was built by Israel and Avis Blodgett. Not only does the house have architectural historical significance as the second or third oldest house in the Village, but it also has great cultural significance as an active stopover point on the Underground Railroad. The Downers Grove Heritage Preservation Corporation has been founded with a mission to save and restore this historic house and create a museum focusing on the underground railroad. Click here to learn more.
Admission: FREE - donations appreciated
Office and Research Hours
Downers Grove Seed Library
Downers Grove Park District Museum is now home to Chicagoland's first seed lending library. To join the library, residents must attend an orientation event, held on April 12 or April 26, 2014 from 2-3 pm at the Downers Grove Museum. Vicki Nowicki, an award winning organic gardener and co-owner of the Land Office, has stocked the library with a collection of thousands of seeds sourced from the Seed Savers Exchange and The Pepperfield Project, including several rare and endangered plants. After the orientation, gardeners will be able to pick out up to five varieties of heirloom seeds, including beans, peas, tomatoes, and lettuce, to ‘borrow’ and plant. Members will also make a commitment to bring back some of the new seeds in the fall, to restock the library for the next season.
831 Maple Avenue
This 4 acre park contains the Downers Grove Park District Museum, including the 1892 Blodgett House (main museum and offices), the 1846 Blodgett House, and the Annex Building, which houses special collections and featured exhibitions. Working in conjunction with the Museum, Wandschneider Park provides leisure and educational experiences for the community through collecting, preserving, and exploring parts of Downers Grove. The museum uses the park to help with exhibiting and interpreting materials that explain and document the history of Downers Grove and its relationship to local, state, regional and national history, including site features such as the “Wildflower Walk” showcasing native prairie plants and the Heritage Garden showcasing heirloom vegetable gardening!
Dawn to Dusk
|* Drinking Fountain|
|* Guided Tours|
|* Natural Area|
|* Picnic Tables|
|* Wildflower Walk Gravel Pathway|
|* Heritage Vegetable Garden|
Pauline Wandschneider was a long time resident of Downers Grove and was the founder and leader of the Downers Grove Historical Society. She dedicated her life to collecting, preserving, displaying and interpreting the history of Downers Grove. In addition to this, she also aided in finding a permanent home for all of these materials. In 1977, in honor of her contribution, the Park District named the site around the Park District Museum, Wandschneider Park. Pauline died in 1993, but the park carries on her name and contribution to the Downers Grove community.
No improvements are currently planned for the upcoming construction season
Special Event Rentals
Wandschneider Park is a beautiful setting for your next special occasion. Complete with gazebo, gardens, walkways and open space, the Museum Campus offers a private sactuary of nature and history in one. For more information on events and rentals, contact Julie Bunke at 630-963-1309.
"It was a great day and we are truly thankful for all that you did to make our daughter's wedding reception a success. We still are getting compliments on how wonderful the location the reception was." - Mother of the Bride, Wedding Reception held August 2012
The Downers Grove Park District Museum has historical materials in the research library and archives. Materials include birth and death certificates, cemetery surveys, census records, telephone directories, school yearbooks, published genealogies, newspaper clippings, and various other documents, such as letters and photographs.
The Museum is available for public research during our office hours, which are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Reservations are not necessary, but the staff suggests you call in advance to determine if there are any materials relevant to your research topic. This will save you travel and time.
For individuals who are unable to travel to The Museum, a staff researcher is available for limited help. To obtain assistance from our staff researcher, you must write a detailed letter with your questions, including as much background information that is available. Letters can either be faxed to our 24-hour line at (630) 963-0496, or mailed to: Staff Researcher, The Downers Grove Park District Museum, 831 Maple Avenue, Downers Grove, Illinois 60515. Inquiries can also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
What does The Museum collect?
It is the mission of the Downers Grove Park District Museum to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret materials that explain and document the history of Downers Grove and its relationship to local, state, regional and national history. All objects accepted into the collections must have a direct connection to Downers Grove, or be able to help tell the story of the community.
How can you donate to The Museum?
If you are clearing out your attic or closets and find things of interest, contact the Museum. The staff will be able to tell you whether or not the object(s) would be considered for it's collection.
What happens to donated objects?
Donated objects accepted by The Museum are given one of three designations: Permanent Collection, Education Collection, or Property. Items are placed in the appropriate category based on a variety of factors, including provenance, intended use, availability, and condition.
Are object donations tax deductible?
YES! Under the terms of the Federal Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, charitable gifts of appreciated property are fully deductible. Contributions of $250 and over will require a receipt for all donations, including property and cash.
Does The Museum staff appraise objects for donation?
NO. The value of an object donation must be appraised by a qualified person. The staff is prohibited from providing appraisals of the monetary value of materials offered as gifts, brought in for identification, or submitted for any other purpose. Therefore, the donor is responsible for obtaining the services of an appraiser.
Did you know?
The Museum is a green facility in many ways:
- Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) or LED lights for lamps and can lighting
Lighting Upgrades - OH bulbs at carriage house
Turn off lights, computers, monitors at end of day or when employees leave desk
Turn off copiers, printers
Windows & doors adequately sealed
No dripping faucets, fountains in the buildings (waste reduction)
Native plant landscaping
Rain barrel/rain garden – rain barrel at carriage house
Bike rack for employees and visitors
Entrance mats of appropriate length at entrances
Natural, unbleached, recycled content paper towels, tissue & napkins
Use washable tablecloths, cleaning rags, etc. to reduce paper use
Furniture/furnishings reuse - exhibits
Effective recycling program in place (plastic, paper, cardboard, aluminum, steel, glass)
Additional waste reduction activities
Composting program in place - Coffee grounds
Encourage employees/clients to use both sides of paper
Print defaults as two-sides
Use second side as scratch paper
Print only when necessary