Mount Prospect's oldest neighborhood will be on display Friday, Nov. 30, when the Mount Prospect Historical Society holds its 25th annual Holiday Housewalk from 3:30 to 9 p.m.
"We chose to highlight the old Busse Eastern Addition neighborhood just east of downtown because it was our 25th anniversary housewalk, a real milestone for us," said Jill Tumberger, co-chairman of the event and a member of the historical society's board of directors.
This neighborhood was subdivided in 1905, well before the community was incorporated in 1917 and streets began to be paved in 1927. The original homeowners were many of the town's early movers and shakers with last names like Rohlwing, Busse, Meyn, Biermann, Hasz, Greinke and Wille.
It even includes Saint Paul Lutheran Church, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The church is also featured on the walk and will be the headquarters for a small craft boutique, refreshments and raffles that evening.
The neighborhood is truly a treasure trove of Mount Prospect history, Tumberger said.
For instance, Louise Rohlwing was a widow when she moved herself and two daughters from their Rolling Meadows area farm to Mount Prospect and had a home built in 1913. Next year the home will turn 100. One of those daughters would later marry George L. Busse, nephew of Cook County Commissioner William Busse and a force in the community.
Albert Greinke was laborer in the Mount Prospect Creamery when he moved his wife, Emma, and their children into their home one block away in 1915. Four years later, on the next block over, Albert Wille built a home for his family. Albert was the son of William Wille, who built the town's one-room schoolhouse, as well as many of its houses. Albert owned Wille's Coal and Lumber building supply business and was the first president of the Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce.
Five homeowners will open their homes for interior tours while four others will have their homes' exteriors highlighted with their histories posted outside on lit podiums for the evening.
One of the exterior homes belonged to Mount Prospect's second mayor, Herman Meyn. Another was owned by the longtime principal of Saint Paul Lutheran School, while still another belonged to a former fire commissioner and the owner of Busse-Biermann Hardware.
"This is a great old house and I wanted to share it with the community," said Rita Waters, one of the featured homes' owners and a garden volunteer at the Mount Prospect Historical Museum, which is right down the block from her home. "People always say how nice it looks when they drive or walk by and I thought that maybe they would like to see the inside, too."
Over the years since it began in 1988, the Mount Prospect Holiday Housewalk has opened 125 different homes to the public for interior tours, headquartering the walk in various churches, the local historic train station, the Mount Prospect Golf Course, a bank and even tents when no public structure was close by. The holiday housewalk has also evolved from a Sunday afternoon driving tour highlighting homes all over the village, to a Friday night neighborhood-specific walking tour.
"We have endured the full range of weather, too," laughed Tumberger. "One year it was in the 70s and the homeowners had to turn on their air conditioning because of all the people walking through. Another year we had a huge snowfall the night before but the Public Works Department worked with us and managed to get the street where the housewalk was being held cleared. Luckily, the walk was all contained on one block that particular year."
The annual event has raised well over $200,000 for the society's operating fund over its venerable history.
This year the housewalk's marketing has also evolved, entering the 21st century with a vengeance. Patrons can now purchase housewalk tickets from the comfort of their own homes via PayPal through the society's website (www.mtphist.org).
Tickets can also be purchased using a smartphone equipped with a "QR (quick response) code" reader anywhere you see a housewalk event poster. Using a QR code reader to scan this object, you will be taken directly to the housewalk event/ticket purchase webpage.
Finally, the MPHS Holiday Housewalk has its own Facebook event page this year full of up-to-the-minute information, news and tidbits about the event.
The homes featured this year, both inside and outside, are: 111 S. Maple St., owned by Dan and Chris Burkhard; 109 S. Maple St., owned by the Raymond Waters Family; 101 S. Maple St., owned by the Mount Prospect Historical Society; 13 S. Maple St., owned by Tom and Barb Meier; 104 S. Elm St., owned by Scott and Juliet Moon; and 14 S. Elm St., owned by Mike and Cathy Pierce.
The exteriors only of 9 S. Maple St., owned by Ken and Anita Chapman; 21 S. Maple St., owned by Pam Dammen; 10 S. Elm St., owned by Mike and Joanie Schwarzbeck; and 105 S. Elm St., owned by Bob Dooley and Bill Reddy, will also be highlighted with historical notes featured on a lighted podium.
Tickets are $25 in advance, available in stores, banks and park district facilities throughout Mount Prospect or online at www.mtphist.org. They are $27 on the evening of the event at the museum, 101 S. Maple St., or at Saint Paul Lutheran Church, 100 S. School St.
Call (847) 392-9006 for more information.