Suburban treasures: 5 roadside landmarks to visit during the pandemic

  • Glen Ellyn trustees Steve Thompson and Kelli Christiansen admire the refurbished horse trough, first used in town in 1907, after an unveiling Wednesday at the Glen Ellyn Civic Center.

      Glen Ellyn trustees Steve Thompson and Kelli Christiansen admire the refurbished horse trough, first used in town in 1907, after an unveiling Wednesday at the Glen Ellyn Civic Center. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • The official unveiling of the refurbished horse trough, first used in town in 1907, took place at the Glen Ellyn Civic Center Wednesday.

      The official unveiling of the refurbished horse trough, first used in town in 1907, took place at the Glen Ellyn Civic Center Wednesday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/20/2020 6:15 AM

An old drinking vessel for horses might sound like an unlikely downtown landmark in the year 2020.

But no list of suburban treasures would be complete without Glen Ellyn's newly restored horse trough, officially rededicated Wednesday as a symbol of the village's reverence for history.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Restless suburbanites can plan a diversion during the pandemic by visiting the refurbished monument and other town icons from Inverness to St. Charles to Harvard. Some have withstood the test of time, while others embrace the strange and unusual. Here's a quick look:

The four silos at Inverness Village Hall were built "circa 1900," according to a plaque. The silos were once part of Thomas Wilson's farm. Legend has it that gangsters used the silos as lookout towers, with a view of the train tracks and, on a clear day, downtown Chicago.
  The four silos at Inverness Village Hall were built "circa 1900," according to a plaque. The silos were once part of Thomas Wilson's farm. Legend has it that gangsters used the silos as lookout towers, with a view of the train tracks and, on a clear day, downtown Chicago. - Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

• Inverness Village Hall: Fortresslike silos rise above the municipal building at 1400 W. Baldwin Road. According to village lore, the Four Silos supposedly doubled as lookout towers for notorious gangster Al Capone during Prohibition. Inverness bought the property and converted it to a village hall in 1984.

Harmilda the cow stands at the intersection of Ayer Street, Route 14, and Route 173 in Harvard. The statue is the symbol of Harvard's annual Milk Days festival.
Harmilda the cow stands at the intersection of Ayer Street, Route 14, and Route 173 in Harvard. The statue is the symbol of Harvard's annual Milk Days festival. - Daily Herald file photo
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• Harmilda the cow in Harvard: This dairy queen has reigned over the intersection of Ayer Street, Route 14, and Route 173 since 1966. Harmilda is a trademark of Harvard's annual Milk Days festival.

In a sign of the times, someone draped a mask on the "Mr. Eggwards" sculpture at Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles. The bronze sculpture, by Kimber Fiebiger, was dedicated in 2013 and is part of the permanent collection that highlights the annual St. Charles Sculpture in the Park event.
  In a sign of the times, someone draped a mask on the "Mr. Eggwards" sculpture at Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles. The bronze sculpture, by Kimber Fiebiger, was dedicated in 2013 and is part of the permanent collection that highlights the annual St. Charles Sculpture in the Park event. - Rick West | Staff Photographer

• "Mr. Eggwards" sculpture in St. Charles: The Humpty Dumpty doppelgänger is perched atop a stonewall in Mount St. Mary Park. He's the brainchild of artist Kimber Fiebiger of Minneapolis.

A smoke stack is all that remains of the Grayslake Gelatin Co. The site of the former factory is now Gelatin Factory Park near downtown.
  A smoke stack is all that remains of the Grayslake Gelatin Co. The site of the former factory is now Gelatin Factory Park near downtown. - Paul Valade | Staff Photographer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• Gelatin Park in Grayslake: A defining village image, an 80-foot-high smokestack is the only surviving relic of the former Grayslake Gelatin Factory. The village purchased the site north of Center Street in 2015.

"I was just very happy with all the unknowns that we were able to come out with such a great end product," Glen Ellyn Public Works Director Julius Hansen said of the village's restored horse trough.
  "I was just very happy with all the unknowns that we were able to come out with such a great end product," Glen Ellyn Public Works Director Julius Hansen said of the village's restored horse trough. - John Starks | Staff Photographer

• Glen Ellyn horse trough: For as long as anyone can remember, the horse trough stood smack dab in the middle of an intersection. Businessman William Newton donated it to the village in 1907 with the instructions that it provide drinking water for horses and dogs.

After years of exposure to the elements and damage from car collisions, the cast-iron structure was showing its frailty.

So the village more than a year ago hired a foundry to build a higher-quality, bronze replica and relied on public works to refurbish the original, all to the tune of nearly $45,000.

"It was a really complex project and very unique," Public Works Director Julius Hansen said.

Earlier this summer, the reproduction took its place in the center of Main Street and Crescent Boulevard. At a ceremony Wednesday, the village unveiled the refurbished original in its new post in front of the Civic Center.

Village mechanics accustomed to tuning up police cars and firetrucks helped make the monument look worthy of satisfying the thirst of a thoroughbred. Stripped of layers of paint, it was treated with powder coating to resist rust and rigged with a more historically accurate, custom-made light fixture.

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