Mundelein to honor the Kracklauer family with new arts fund

A family with historic ties to Mundelein is being honored in a new way.

The village board this week created the Kracklauer Fund for the Arts and stocked it with $10,000 in seed money. The account will be used to acquire and display public art projects in Mundelein.

The fund honors the late Aloysius C. Kracklauer and Violet W. Kracklauer, a Mundelein couple who donated land in the mid-20th century at what is now 169 N. Seymour Ave. for a fire station and fire department headquarters.

They also donated land at Seymour Avenue and Crystal Street, just down the street from the old fire station, that was turned into Kracklauer Park.

Trustee Ray Semple said he is grateful for the family's continued generosity.

"The Kracklauer family has been very impactful to the village of Mundelein - and they continue to be impactful to this day," Semple said.

The Kracklauers donated the land for the fire station to what was then the Mundelein-Countryside Fire Department. According to local lore, the station was built by the firefighters themselves.

A municipal water tower stands nearby, too.

"Most residents assume that the Kracklauer family donated the land or had something to do with Kracklauer Park," Semple said. "But few know that the family also donated the land where our original fire station and water tower were built."

In 1959, after Mundelein created its own fire department, the property was donated to the village. But the Kracklauers insisted on a caveat: The building had to be used for municipal or school purposes and couldn't be sold to a private developer or used for private needs.

The building remained in use as a fire station until a new headquarters opened on Midlothian Road in 2000. It subsequently was turned into a facility maintenance building for the public works and engineering department.

Now that a new public works facility is being built elsewhere in town, the department won't need the old building. And village officials have no need for the site.

The property is in an area that's seen redevelopment as part of Mundelein's downtown revitalization effort. Village officials said they'd consider selling the site to a private developer.

"The village has received preliminary inquiries from private investors to convert the building to a restaurant use," Assistant Village Administrator Peter Vadopalas said in a recent memo.

Last year, Vadopalas searched for and eventually located the surviving Kracklauer children - Mary Kracklauer and her brother, Aloysius. Another brother had died.

The siblings said a sale to a private developer would be fine as long as the village establishes a fund recognizing the family's contributions to the community.

"We really wanted our parents to be acknowledged and recognized," Mary Kracklauer said.

The younger Aloysius Kracklauer died in October before the deal could be finalized. But Mary Kracklauer went ahead with the plan.

"We were both very pleased to do this," she said.

Trustees unanimously voted Monday to create the fund and donate $10,000 in village cash to the account. The deposit will be a one-time gift, Vadopalas said.

Mundelein's arts commission will draft rules for using and sustaining the fund.

Mundelein officials have embraced public art in recent years. Projects have included a mural on the side of a building at 18 E. Park St., a statue at the police station and the decorative painting of some roadside utility boxes.

The Kracklauer family moved to Texas from Mundelein in the late 1950s. Mary still lives there today.

She's happy Mundelein officials are honoring her parents again.

"I think they would be very pleased with this," she said. "It was in accord with their way of thinking and their generosity."

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  In 1947 and 1951, the Kracklauers donated land to what was then the Mundelein-Countryside Fire Department for the construction of a fire station and headquarters at 169 N. Seymour Ave. in Mundelein. The site is a public works and engineering department facility today. Paul Valade/
  Kracklauer Park in Mundelein honors a family that once lived in town and donated land to the village. This week, a fund for public art was created in the family's name. Paul Valade/
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