Grove National Historic Landmark
a 124-acre National Historic Landmark owned by the Glenview
Park District, The Grove is a rare convergence of this regions
nature and culture historic homestead of Dr. John
Kennicott, inspiration for some of the best nature writing
in this region, and lush home to a variety of ecosystems
that remain virtually intact.
I-294 to Willow Rd., exit west, go about 1/2 mile
to Milwaukee Ave. (Rte. 21) south, immediately keep
to the left before the road splits, go about 2 miles,
pass under the tollway and watch for The Grove sign
on the left (east). Enter the driveway into the property.
a physician, migrated with his wife from New Orleans in
1836. They bypassed the swamps of Chicago to hew a 10-room
cabin beneath shady bur oaks and shagbark hickories clustered
on the road to Milwaukee.
exceeding beauty of these scattered trees, gradually dotting
the verge of the prairie...on the west side of the [Des
Plaines] river, where trees are seldom found and the bold
outline of heavy timber on its eastern shore
with the lovely chain of blue islands obscurely visible
in the western horizon, rendered the whole landscape most
truly delicious and was the principal inducement to my remaining
here, Kennicott wrote.
will enjoy exploring the Gothic Revival house, especially
on Sundays from 1-4 p.m. when volunteers explain its rich
Kennicott surrounded the home he built in 1856 with sweeps
of trillium and Jack-in-the-pulpit much like the blooms
visible this spring. The leaves of the adders-tongue,
water-leaf, sweet cicely, Solomons seal and trillium
now carpet the woods so densely in many places that one
knows not where to tread, wrote Donald Culross Peattie
Fall 2000). In the house, visit the nooks where school
children flock to cook lunch on a wood-burning stove, dip
candles and churn butter, or spin and weave cloth like that
once worn by Kennicotts children. Or study at a Gothic
style schoolhouse the doctor designed. Notice, too, the
bursts of toothwort and bloodroot around the parking lot
and along the walkway to the nearby Interpretive Center.
beginning the self-guided tour over more than two miles
of colorful trails, pick up a map and admire the plethora
of native creatures in the center. Visitors will see huge
catfish, impressive gar, a tank of turtles, and a collection
of snakes, including the rare fox snake, specimens of which
will be released in outside dens later this year. A variety
of birds are represented, including the threatened red-shouldered
hawk that, like the endangered Coopers hawk, may be
nesting in The Grove. Once outside, visitors may see or
hear orioles, indigo buntings, and red-headed woodpeckers
pecking savanna oaks for lunch before migrating further
front of the Center, follow the wetland walk across the
pond gouged by a retreating glacier to search for crisp
blue flag iris, and, perhaps, a scavenging blue heron. Or,
admire the diverse displays of native fish, ferns, and frogs
in the wetland greenhouse beside the Center before moving
east into the back 50, a sweep of savanna and
prairie under restoration.
1973 a group of determined women the Frog and
Fern Ladies, they were called began lobbying
to save The Grove from development. They succeeded, and
in 1976 the site was acquired by the Glenview Park District.
1999 The Grove began an extensive restoration of 110 acres
of wetlands, prairie, and oak woodlands with substantial
support from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Chicago
Wilderness. (Perversely, Dr. John Kennicott, a noted horticulturalist
as well as physician, is thought to have imported European
buckthorn to these parts as an ornamental hedge plant; it
is now the scourge of this regions woods, including
The Grove.) Director Steve Swanson and his staff held numerous
meetings with The Groves neighbors and civic groups,
and taught classes in the high school to explain the goals
and techniques of habitat restoration. (A brochure titled
Restoring the Past...Preserving the Future describes
the project.) As a result, their work has been wildly successful
both on the ground and in the community.
sure to view these efforts in the back 50, where
a hibernaculum is home to natives such as the rare Kirtlands
snake discovered by Robert Kennicott, and where bursts of
spring flowers resemble those described by the Kennicotts
166 years ago: great white and prairie trillium, virginia
bluebells, green dragon, toothwort, and trout lily. There
is an incredible richness in The Groves history,
Lorin Ottlinger, The Groves naturalist explained.
I love being here because I feel Im continuing
the work that began so many years ago.
The Grove soon to revel in spring flora, and return later
in the summer to witness the sweeps of bee balm, goldenrod,
purple coneflower, jewel weed, and scarce cardinal flower
bursting with color. Visiting hours are 8.00 a.m.-4.30 p.m.
Monday through Friday, and 9a.m.-5p.m. on weekends.
parking, and access to historical documents are free; and
picnicking is permitted only at the tables to the north
of the Kennicott House. Grab lunch at the nearby Jewel store
on Pfingsten and Willow Roads to the northeast of The Grove.
(847) 299-6096 for more information. Also see The
Grove Web site.
Reading About The Grove
Prairie Grove by Donald Culross Peattie was
described, upon publication in 1938, as the biography
of an American acre. And so it is, his fictionalized
account of life at The Grove, the childhood home of his
wife, Louise Redfield Peattie, John Kennicotts great
granddaughter, whose own novel, American Acres,
was published in 1936. See Peattie
Resources (CW, Fall 2000).
Trail Nature Center lies a mile north of The Grove on
Milwaukee Ave., overlooking the Des Plaines River. One of
several county forest preserves nearby, it offers three
miles of trails, a family program every Sunday at 1:30 p.m.,
and an exhibit of animals, including a must-see American
bald eagle. On March 17 and 24, River Trail hosts maple
syrup collecting demonstrations and a pancake breakfast.
The Center is open from 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m., March 1 to
October 30 (847) 824-8360.
prime nature spot is the Chicago
Botanic Garden, north and east of The Grove at 1000
Lake Cook Rd. Here wild nature in the form of Mary
Mix McDonald Woods, the Suzanne Dixon prairie, and
24 cultivated specialty gardens intermingle on 385 acres.
Theres a narrated tram tour and a café (8:00
a.m.-4:00 p.m.), as well as numerous seasonal exhibits,
courses, and a horticulture hotline. Parking is $7.75 per
car for non-members, $5.75 on Tuesdays for seniors over
age 62; (847) 835-5440.
will also enjoy the Kohl
Childrens Museum, 165 Greenbay Rd., Wilmette,
(847) 256-6056; a beehive of fun displays and myriad events.
Activities hotline: (847) 251-7781, $6.00 admission; $5.00
seniors. Grownups may prefer the Mitchell
Museum of the American Indian, Kendall College,
2600 Central Park Ave., Evanston, (847) 475-1030. Suggested
admission is $5.00 adults, $2.00 children, maximum of $10.00
Grove is surrounded by restaurants catering to most tastes,
from sushi at Ichibans on Willow at Pfingsten
[(847) 272-9300], to sweet-sour chicken ($9.50) and spicy
tofu ($7.95) at Szechwan North [(847) 272-0007] at
the same location. Or try spicy shrimp ($10.95) at Empire
Szechwan at Lake and Euclid [(847) 827-7777]. Steak
lovers can feast on their favorites at Allgars, 2855
N. Milwaukee [(847) 480-7500], or Prime Minister,
3355 N. Milwaukee [(847) 296-4423], where prime rib is $15.00
- $39.00 for a mammoth two-pound slab. Cys,
down the street at 1615 N. Milwaukee [(847) 298-7000], serves
crab and a rib slab with fries and a side dish for $20.
For ice cream head to Homers, 1237 Green Bay
Rd., in Wilmette, (847) 251-0477. Savor moosetrack, pumpkin,
or 33 other flavors of ice cream at $2 per cone.
lack of campgrounds in the area is offset by several motels
on Milwaukee Ave., including a Budgetel [(847) 635-8300]
at $60 per night, and The Doubletree Guest Suites
[(847) 803-9800], at $120 per night, both plus tax for four
people. Or try a B&B. The Margarita European Inn
in Evanston [(847) 869-2273] has rooms from $75 with shared
bath. The Chateau des Fleurs in Winnetka [(847) 256-7272]
is more luxe at to $145, both plus tax.
& antique show at The Grove, May 4 and 5, 2002; $4 admission,
$1.00 children under 12; (847) 299-6096.
Living history tours & pioneer life demonstrations,
June 18- August 18, 2002: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday,
11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., admission free. (847) 299-6096.
prairie island and its grove are like the hammock
in the everglades, like an atoll in the sea, like
an oasis upon the desert. It is something worth
floundering and sweating for, a spot where a man
can throw himself down and drink the wind and bathe
in the shade, where, as the blood stops pounding
in his temples, he can begin to hear the birds singing
deeper in the woods...
people only love a hill; they like their views prettily
framed for them. For such, mountains are excessive,
and plains give them agoraphobia. But if I cannot
have mountains, give me a plain where there are
a hundred and eighty degrees of sky arc. And for
my peace, my habitation, and my heritage, give me
an island grove upon that plain.
from A Prairie Grove, by Donald Culross Peattie