Situated at 8031 Floral Ave. Skokie, IL 60077, the Skokie Heritage Museum is a wonderful place to visit for anyone interested in learning more about our town’s rich history. The two old buildings here tell the story from different perspectives, and they’re both fascinating.
The Historic Engine House is a historic building in Chicago originally built to house steam engines after the 1871 fire. When the Chicago Fire destroyed more than 2000 buildings in 1871, it also left much-needed victims’ compensation funds for those hardest hit. To this end, a building was constructed to serve as both storage for donated items and proof against theft or misuse by future firefighters trying to collect their pay after being deployed into dangerous situations without adequate equipment necessary to save lives from burning houses.
This beautifully restored building is a must-see for anyone interested in history. The first floor houses permanent exhibits that provide an informative overview of a local landmark. In contrast, tours can take you up to see the second level, where there are traveling or temporary exhibits at any given time. The Skokie Valley is full of history, and it has been beautifully preserved for generations to come. The early Niles Township settlers had a charming log cabin raised in 1847 by them.
The Historic Engine House is a historic building with a library for public use that also houses many rare and valuable artifacts. The Fire Department exhibit includes two restored ladders from the 1800s, one newly refurbished 1860s Rumsley Hand Pumper truck, and other apparatus dating back even further in time, such 1808 Hose Cart – all on display right here at our museum. The second floor is a great space for school group programs, private rentals, and meetings. It’s also the perfect spot to host traveling exhibits or events with its open design that facilitates the easy circulation of people throughout.
Long before there was a village or even electricity in this remote area of Skokie, the Engine House served as both a police station and village hall for over twenty years. It’s not surprising that it also held space to board those considered lodging-worthy souls until their own homes could be found – from its early days up through World War II.
The Engine House was originally built in 1900 to serve as a fire station and health department for Skokie, but it soon became empty after the Fire Department moved out. In the 1990s, through hard work from an newly formed historical society and help from Park District’s attorney who had grown up here himself, the building reopened its doors again as part of ongoing renovations on historic buildings throughout our town. This project took longer than expected, mainly because no one knew what should be done to decorate such an old place.
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