April Showers Bring May [Wild]Flowers!

Did you know that Downers Grove used to have a chapter in the Wildflower Preservation Society of America? Founded on February 8, 1921, their mission was to encourage the preservation of native plants, make laws to protect them and to teach children about them. The group planted flowers and shrubs in forest preserves and held exhibitions which included movies and pictures. Their showcase on March 17, 1921, drew a crowd of 500 attendees from Chicago and the surrounding area.

Lottie Holman-O’Neill
Lottie Holman-O’Neill

Lottie Holman O’Neill of Downers Grove, the first woman elected to the Illinois General Assembly and for whom O’Neill Middle School is named, led a committee to pass legislation to protect wildflowers. O’Neill was an active member of the Downers Grove Chapter of the Wildflower Preservation Society of America. Many of the wildflowers planted by the Society are still found in the Belmont Prairie and possibly in Maple Grove.

Pictured above is a Lady’s Slipper, a member of the orchid family which can be found at the Belmont Prairie each spring. The Wildflower Preservation Society of America no longer exists but the Pierce Downer Heritage Alliance holds a Wildflower Walk in Lyman Woods in the spring every year,  during Downers Grove Historical Society’s weeklong FoundersFest Celebration.

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