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Lombard History

Historic Photo Gallery | Books Written by Lombardians

A Brief Timeline of Lombard

1837
Artist Sheldon Peck moves to Babcock's Grove (original name of Lombard).
1867
Colonel William R. Plum moves to Babcock's Grove to a 2.5 acre estate (the future location of Lilacia Park and the library). After a 1910 trip to Europe and Russia, he and his wife Helen begin cultivating lilacs.
1869
Lombard is incorporated. The village is named after Josiah Lombard. Although Josiah owned 227 acres in Babcock's Grove, he never actually lived here. He did build three houses in Babcock's Grove, including the house still standing at 241 W. Maple.
1870
First Church of Lombard is built. The church bell becomes the fire alarm in the village until 1910. The first library was housed in a room at the First Church.
1878
Hammerschmidt Brick & Tile Company is built.The bricks from that factory were used to build many of the homes and stores in Lombard. Hammerschmidt Elementary School now sits where the factory used to be.
1881
"Little Orphan Annie" house is built at 119 N. Main St. The Annie house was built in 1881 for Dr. William LeRoy. He was a  doctor who made artificial arms and legs for Civil War soldiers. Dr. LeRoy lived in the house until 1900.  After that, the house belonged to the Gray family. Harold Gray was a cartoonist.  In 1924 Mr. Gray created the "Little Orphan Annie" comic strip for the Chicago Tribune. He used the house as a model for the mansion in his comic strip.
1882
1891
Ellen Martin, a lawyer rooming at 219 W. Maple, becomes the first woman to vote in Illinois.
On April 6, 1891, Ellen Martin led a group of women to the voting place at the general store. She demanded that the three male election judges allow the women to vote. The judges were so surprised that one of them had a "spasm," one leaned against the wall for support, and the other fell backwards into a barrel of flour!
They did not want to let the women vote, so a county judge was asked to decide. He agreed that the women were right. Ellen Martin then became the first woman in Illinois to vote. In 1916 Illinois women could vote in national elections, but the 19th Amendment (the Women's Suffrage Amendment) was not passed in 1920.
1905

Josiah Reade House built at 15 W. Maple. Josiah Reade began the first public library in Lombard. He wanted to share his large collection of books with the townspeople. He began by carrying a basketful of books weekly over to the First Church of Lombard to set up a library.
When Colonel Plum donated his house as a library, Mr. Reade's collection of 3,000 books was moved across the street to the Helen Plum Memorial Library.  Josiah Reade died in 1929 at the age of  99. When he died, the bell at First Church was rung 99 times.

1927
Plum Library & Lilacia Park are founded when Colonel William R. Plum bequeaths his home and adjacent lilac gardens to the town as a park and library site. As a result of Colonel Plum's bequest, the Lombard Park District is established by court order in 1927.
Lombard hires the famed landscape architect Jens Jensen to create Lilacia Park. Jensen's family lives in the Plum house and Mrs. Jensen becomes the town librarian. The Helen M. Plum Memorial library is in the Plum house!
1928
DuPage Theatre opens on July 26. The first movie shown at the DuPage was "The Yellow Lady."  The theatre cost $300,000 to build and could hold 1,400 people. Inside, the theatre was decorated with gold pillars and the ceiling looked like floating clouds with stars that lit up in the dark. This theater was demolished in May 2007.
1972
Lombard Historical Museum opened at 23 W. Maple.
1999
Peck Homestead dedicated at 355 E. Parkside.

 

 

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