DuPage forest district looking to revitalize Mayslake Peabody Estate

  • DuPage forest preserve officials are looking to expand their offerings at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook and to make more people aware of what's already there.

    DuPage forest preserve officials are looking to expand their offerings at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook and to make more people aware of what's already there. Courtesy Forest Preserve District of DuPage County

 
By Julia Locanto
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 10/16/2019 9:32 AM

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is launching an initiative to revitalize the Mayslake Peabody Estate by expanding offerings at the Oak Brook site and making people more aware of what's already there.

The historic building and surrounding grounds in the Mayslake Forest Preserve are home to numerous exhibits, tours and activities. But the district wants to offer even more to reengage the public and increase awareness of what it has to offer in terms of nature, the arts, culture and history.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Toward that goal, officials say they want to make better use of the Mayslake library and provide more interactive activities, especially on cold and dreary days.

The library currently is filled with historic collections and officials have a wish list for adding still more.

It features books published before 1922, when owner Francis Stuyvesant Peabody died on the property. Cultural Education Manager Janneke Fowers said the response to the collection has been "enormous and emotional."

The library celebrates a different theme every three months and Fowers says the Mayslake staff wants to offer more mini-exhibits and hands-on activities to reflect each theme.

The district also plans to begin hosting a book club in February, using only books from the library.

Fowers said other ideas for the space include yoga classes, photography classes and limited-mobility chats for those who cannot walk around the preserve.

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In addition to plans for the library, officials introduced a new exhibit to Mayslake this fall based on the estate's legacy.

During Peabody's time at the estate, he was a gentleman farmer -- one who farmed for enjoyment, not for profit. A "Gentleman's Dream" exhibit, offering tours at Mayslake Farm in honor of Peabody, opened Sept. 14 and runs through Nov. 7. The free exhibit includes stories about the animals and people at the farm and includes a miniature model poultry farm.

Mayslake currently offers theater, chapel weddings and restoration tours.

The initiative to include more interactive programs at Mayslake and throughout the forest preserve district came in response to a community survey conducted in 2017.

District President Daniel Hebreard said he hopes changes at Mayslake will attract more residents to the preserve at 1717 31st St.

"The whole framework and vision are living out community input," he said.

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