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posted: 11/12/2012 12:01 AM

Park district marks 75th anniversary of Glen Ellyn landmark

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Visitors to the Lake Ellyn Boathouse Sunday might have felt a bit like time travelers.

The Glen Ellyn Park District marked the 75th anniversary of the building by hosting an open house that featured entertainment and exhibits from the 1930s. There were grainy black-and-white photos of Lake Ellyn, posters for movies that came out in 1937 (such as "Stella Davis" and "The Awful Truth"), even a live performance of an old radio program.

It was all designed to celebrate the opening of the boathouse 75 years ago and its continued appeal today.

"People love this building," said park district spokeswoman Kathleen Talenco. "It really is a community landmark."

The boathouse, originally known as the Lake Ellyn Recreation House, opened on Nov. 12, 1937. It was built as part of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal economic program.

Over the years, the boathouse has been used for ice cream socials, Easter Egg hunts, and as a warming house for Lake Ellyn ice skaters. Today, it's also rented out for special events, like summer weddings.

Sunday's open house gave residents a chance to explore the building and absorb some of the cultural atmosphere of the era in which it was built.

The Need to Be Seen Radio Troupe, based in Geneva, did two live performances of "The Case of the Big Top Murders," an old Dick Tracy radio-program episode. Clips from the 1937 film "Make Way for Tomorrow" played on a television. Newspaper clippings about what was happening in Glen Ellyn and all over the country during the late 1930s were on display. Some of the materials were provided by the Glen Ellyn Historical Society.

"We wanted to kind of capture the spirit of that time, which featured a lot of major events," Talenco said. "The Hindenburg disaster happened in 1937, to name just one example."

The open house also provided a glimpse into Lake Ellyn's future. The park district is working now on a master plan for the area, and information about that project, was on display as well.

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