The Downers Grove Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting and celebrating Downers Grove history. We are solely dependent on your dues, donations, and volunteers to complete our mission. Here is a look at some of the varied programs and initiatives which keep our volunteers busy.
- Main Street Cemetery Stewardship: The Society partners with the Village of Downers Grove to maintain the Main Street Cemetery, its monuments, and the documentation about the those who are buried there.
- Each year, the Society coordinates the installation of a number of new headstones as we find new information about who is buried at this site. Some plaques are added at grave sites where the wording on the graves is slowly becoming illegible.
- We maintain the web app www.mainstreetcemetery.com which was released in 2019, providing photographic and audio insights into those interred at the Main Street Cemetery.
- Research is constant in an attempt to glean new information about those early settlers buried here. In the summer of 2021, we contracted for a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey. Some undocumented grave sites were found and research continues to find more information about these burials.
- Historic Home Program: The Society partners with the Downers Grove Museum to help homeowners who may wish to have their historic home recognized. Formerly the Centennial Homes program, research and documentation must be completed on the home's history.
- Founders Day: This annual event in early May is a collaboration with many community organizations and not-for-profits which sponsor history-related programs for the enjoyment of the whole community with a special focus on one of our early settlers.
- Educational Programs/Events: Events are planned throughout the year to help increase the appreciation of our history, our historic architecture, and to just have some fun.
- Newsletters: We send out quarterly newsletters packed full of great stories about upcoming events and of course, Downers Grove history.
- Recognition Programs and Honors:
- Historian of the Year: This program recognizes individuals who have contributed time, talent, and treasure over many years in the support of Downers Grove history.
- Montrew Dunham Award: Named after noted author and Downers Grove historian Montrew Dunham, this award recognizes a community volunteer who has made a significant difference in Downers Grove.
- Historic Sites Program: This program recognizes a significant historic building or site in Downers Grove, providing the research for its history and sponsoring a bronze plaque for the location. In 2020 we dedicated a plaque for the Grant E. Dicke Fire Station. In 2021 we recognized the historic burial ground of the Downer family.
- Living Cemetery: This annual event brings together the talents of local drama students and adult actors who depict the early settlers buried in the historic Main St. Cemetery. You will hear the stories about how these brave pioneers made their way to our area and about their many contributions to creating the Village of Downers Grove.
- Website: Recent improvements include the addition of a Downers Grove History Research Guide.
- Facebook: We have a growing presence with over 2500 followers on Facebook. The Facebook site focuses on upcoming events, interesting historical facts about Downers Grove, and discussions about the history of Downers Grove.
The Downers Grove Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) charity. The Downers Grove Museum is operated by the Downers Grove Park District. The Museum is the protector of documents, photos, furnishings, and memorabilia from Downers Grove's rich history. They run many educational programs for all ages and are open to the public for enjoyment and research needs.