Planned time capsule will make elements of the past part of the new Hawthorn Mall

  • Some of the items to be included in a time capsule for Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills to be opened in 50 years.

    Some of the items to be included in a time capsule for Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills to be opened in 50 years. Courtesy of village of Vernon Hills

  • Vernon Hills village Trustee Thom Koch speaks during a ceremonial groundbreaking event in March at Hawthorn Mall. A time capsule to be opened in 50 years is being assembled for a fall kickoff event in September.

    Vernon Hills village Trustee Thom Koch speaks during a ceremonial groundbreaking event in March at Hawthorn Mall. A time capsule to be opened in 50 years is being assembled for a fall kickoff event in September. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

  • Demolition began early this year on the former Sears store at Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills. A rendering displayed on safety fencing gives a glimpse at the planned transformation.

    Demolition began early this year on the former Sears store at Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills. A rendering displayed on safety fencing gives a glimpse at the planned transformation. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted8/12/2021 5:30 AM

Fifty years from now, anyone around Vernon Hills can get a sense of what it was like when the big turnaround began at Hawthorn Mall.

In 2071, a time capsule -- actually a stainless steel barrel -- filled with various items will be retrieved from a storage place on the mall property and opened.

 

What version of the iPhone will be in use then? Will paper money still be in circulation? Will any gas-powered vehicles still be on the roads? Those items -- what one day will be artifacts -- are among those going into or being represented in the barrel.

Plans for the capsule come as the $252 million Hawthorn 2.0 project to reinvent the mall is well underway.

Earlier this year, Hawthorn reached out to gauge village interest in participating in a time capsule. A campaign to solicit feedback from village leaders, the community and stakeholders in the mall project was put in motion. Ideas were solicited using social media platforms and other avenues.

The village is securing the artifacts and will deliver them by Labor Day in advance of a fall kickoff event at the mall planned for Sept. 18.

Hawthorn will buy and brand a 55-gallon barrel, said Kristen Svendsen, a human resource specialist with the village who has been working on the project. The 3-foot-tall vessel will be stored at a to-be-determined spot in the mall to be opened in 50 years, she said.

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Artifacts were received from community partners, including the police department, Vernon Hills Park District, Countryside Fire Protection District, Hawthorn Elementary District 73, Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128, Cook Memorial Public Library District, Libertyville Township and the Vernon Hills Pageant, Svendsen said.

Among the items are face masks and sanitizer bottles to mark the COVID-19 pandemic, newspapers (sealed in plastic bags) announcing the inauguration of President Joe Biden, a miniature replica of a gas-powered police squad car, and an iPhone.

Organizational charts as well as historic and current photos of people and places also are on the list. Group shots of the village board and staff will be included, for example.

Aerial images of the current construction as well as photos of the landscape when the mall was built and surrounded by farms also will be going in the barrel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We're catching all the departments as they are now because we think it will be fascinating for people to see in 50 years," said Jon Petrillo, assistant village manager.

"We're still looking for memorabilia," he said.

People who think they have something symbolic or is a significant representation of Vernon Hills should contact Svendsen at (847) 918-3542 or kristens@vills.org, Petrillo said.

Construction of Hawthorn Mall began in 1972 and it opened with some stores on Sept. 10, 1973. Through various owners, it has remained the centerpiece and economic engine of what has become Vernon Hills' vast commercial base.

However, with two main anchors gone and the retail industry changing, the mall has lost its luster. Centennial Real Estate, assisted by $46.5 million in village incentives, is transforming the mall into a mix of retail, dining, entertainment and hundreds of apartments.

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