By a Lake Forest Love Writer
The Lake Forest Preservation Foundation has mounted 18 plaques -- provided through donations to the LFPF annual fund -- that recognize important historic architectural design in our town’s center. The non-profit group will hold a free family Tour de Plaques event centered on Market Square on Sunday, May 21 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. with prizes, refreshments and brief talks.
An illustrated map of the locations of the plaques by Mark McMahon will be distributed to attendees. This handout and an itinerary entrance blank will be available for participants to seek out these new brass plaques within a few blocks, identify a plaque typo if they can, and then register for a prize drawing (the typo identified will qualify an entry for an additional drawing). Would-be attendees are encouraged to register at LFPF.org to help the Preservation Foundation estimate supplies needed for the event.
Marcy Kerr holds one of the plaques while flanked by Art Miller (left) and Jim Opsitnik.
The new plaques were mounted by LFPF board member Jim Opsitnik. The plaques’ texts were drafted by board members and by Marcy Kerr, executive director. They were edited for consistency and approved by the property owners. Kerr also managed interactions with the plaque company during the pandemic, an entity that ultimately went out of business -- hence a plaque with a now permanent typo. The plaques project had hatched from an idea by then Advocacy chair for the board Susie Athenson and was completed while she was president.
Lake Forest is unique for cities of about 20,000 residents in having nationally significant historic downtown architectural design that residents experience regularly. Standing out is Market Square, the innovative town center designed around motor vehicles, occupied in 1916. Six plaques relate to that mixed-use complex: the long north and south buildings with towers, the west end of the park’s colonnaded main building, the park and fountain, and the 1917 Young Men’s Club and Krafft Drug Store buildings, all by Howard Van Doren Shaw
A former Shaw associate, Stanley D. Anderson, designed in 1925-29 the buildings on the north side of Deerpath south of Market Square in the same style as Shaw’s town center, west of the Anderson Block, 1904. That three-story mixed-use building, now with Walgreens on the first floor, was designed by James Gamble Rogers, later of New York City, and married to Anne Day Rogers of Lake Forest. The 1933 Post Office, in the northwest corner of Market Square, was by another former Shaw associate, Ralph Milman.
Both the 1900 east side train station and the 1899 City Hall were designed by Frost & Granger, brothers-in-law Charles S. Frost and Alfred H. Granger. While both had distinguished separate careers, from 1898 to 1910 they partnered on many important buildings, including Chicago’s Northern Trust Bank on LaSalle Street. They lived on a family compound at Sheridan, Westminster, and Elm Tree, in houses each had designed and built.
Especially significant too are the Deerpath Inn, 1929, designed by William C. Jones, and rehabbed after a late 1930s fire by Anderson, and the Lake Forest Library, 1931, by Edwin Hill Clark. Rogers, Shaw, and Anderson all contributed over time to the Gorton Community Center.