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updated: 8/21/2014 1:00 PM

Lombard Historical Society hosting Sheldon Peck celebration

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  • The Lombard Historical Society is marking the 175th anniversary of the completion of the Peck Homestead with a three-day celebration this weekend called Peckapalooza.

      The Lombard Historical Society is marking the 175th anniversary of the completion of the Peck Homestead with a three-day celebration this weekend called Peckapalooza.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Sheldon Peck was a folk artist and radical abolitionist who built a home in the 1830s on land that would later be part of Lombard.

      Sheldon Peck was a folk artist and radical abolitionist who built a home in the 1830s on land that would later be part of Lombard.
    Courtesy of the Lombard Historical Society

 
 

The Lombard Historical Society is sponsoring a celebration this weekend to honor Sheldon Peck, one of the community's most noted historic figures.

Natalie Gacek, the society's executive director, said Peck was a folk artist and radical abolitionist who wanted an immediate end to slavery and equality for all.

"He was much more progressive in his thinking than others who were part of the abolitionist movement at that time," Gacek said, adding that the diary of Peck's youngest son revealed at least seven escaped slaves stayed at the house at one point.

Originally from Vermont, Peck moved with his family to what is now Lombard around 1837. He settled on nearly 200 acres and spent two years building his home.

Peckapalooza, as this weekend's celebration is being called, celebrates the 175th anniversary of the completion of the house and Peck's accomplishments.

It begins at 5 p.m. Friday with a members-only exhibit preview at the Peck homestead, 355 E. Parkside Ave. Wine and cheese will be served and some members of the Peck family will be present.

Gacek said one of the new exhibits highlights the restoration of the home in the 1990s, which occurred shortly after it was sold to the historical society by Peck's descendants. The other exhibit, which is funded by a National Park Service grant, explains how the house and Peck were part of the Underground Railroad.

On Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m., there will be free kids' games, crafts and live music on the grounds of the homestead. House tours also will be available at the start of each hour. All the activities are free and open to the public.

History buffs are welcome to attend two lectures at the homestead on Sunday. The first, which begins at 1 p.m., will be about folk art, led by a lecturer from the Art Institute of Chicago.

Gacek said the homestead is filled with reproductions of Peck's artwork, but his originals now are on display at the Art Institute and other museums, including the Chicago History Museum and the American Folk Art Museum in New York City.

At 2 p.m., a prairie schoolteacher interpreter will do a presentation about what schools were like in Peck's time. Peck started the first school in the Lombard area by paying a teacher $50 out of his own pocket to lead classes for his children and others who lived on nearby farms, Gacek said.

"Peck was such an important person not only for our community's history, but also for history in general," she said. "We wanted to do something special to celebrate."

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