Heritage Alliance Mission

Pierce Downer's Heritage Alliance is dedicated to preserving the natural and cultural heritage of Downers Grove. In the past, we have maintained sharp focus on the natural heritage within our community. Pierce Downer's Heritage Alliance has been instrumental in the preservation and protection of Lyman Woods, and Belmont Prairie, which continue as on-going projects.

We are now also committed to the preservation of  cultural aspects of Downers Grove, including its rich architectural heritage. We work to accomplish our mission through education as well as community outreach.

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Historic Preservation Activities

As the result of changes to the Village historic preservation program interest in landmarking homes and other historic structures has increased.

On November 15th the Village Council granted landmark status to two more historic homes. 

J. J. Cole House 710 Maple Avenue
James and Ma
4540 Highland Avenue Venard Houseren Huber landmarked the J.J. Cole House at 710 Maple Avenue and  John and Patricia Orwin landmarked the Venard House at 4540 Highland Avenue, exemplifying the American Foursquare style.

Local architects Amy and Dave Gassen discussed The History & Significance of the American Foursquare on September 26th.   Now you can read Amy and Dave's article about our local American Foursquare homes on  page 2 of PDHA's 2016 Fall Newsletter.

On August 16th the Village Council unanimously approved landmark status for two historic homes. Fred and Cindy Zaeske have named their landmarked home at 1130 Franklin Street "The Foote House", while Chris and Patricia Patterson named their landmarked home at 4502 Prince Street "The Kruger House."  On June 14th the Village Council unanimously approved landmark status for three historic buildings. Bo and Christine Martin have named their newly landmarked home at 701 Maple Avenue "The Herring House," while Charlotte and Byron Holtzen named their landmarked home at 5226 Carpenter Street "The Foster House."  Before the unanimous vote to approve landmark status for the Village owned  Main Street Train Station at 1000 Main Street, Mayor Martin Tully stated "the Village takes seriously its commitment to historic preservation."

A resolution granting historic landmark status for the "Gjerde House," home of Irene Hogstrom and Mark Bragen at 1232 Gilbert Avenue was unanimously approved by the Village Council on May 17th.
On February 17th, the ADRB recommended landmark status for the 92-year-old "Ehr House," home of Amy and David Gassen.  The Village Council considered Gassens' petition for landmark status on March 8th. You can click here to watch the discussion of this item, which started at 29 minutes into the meeting and continued for 24 minutes.  The resolution granting historic landmark status for the Gassen's home at 5320 Benton Avenue was unanimously approved at the Council's March 22nd meeting.  The house is a prime example of the American Foursquare design, which is well represented in Downers Grove.
As noted in their landmarking application, “American Foursquares were a post-Victorian house type and an architectural reaction against the ornateness and complexity found in Victorian buildings. The cube-shaped massing of American Foursquares was designed to maximize square footage on small lots. Additional common characteristics of American Foursquares include a square floor plan, a central dormer in the attic, a front porch (usually, but not always, spanning across the entire front facade), a hip roof, and wide eaves.”
We thank the Gassens for opting to preserve their home and congratulate them on their well-researched application and presentation to the ADRB. (It probably didn’t hurt that they’re both architects.) We are pleased that the Council voted unanimously to make their home the 3rd landmarked building in Downers Grove.  We now look forward to many more applications coming in.  - Ken Lerner & Gordon Goodman

Photos of the home can be found here.

Please click here for background information about updating Downers Grove's Historic Preservation and Zoning Ordinances.

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 Chicagoland’s Urban Coyotes

PDHA's 2016 Annual Meeting on Thursday, October 13th featured a free public presentation on Chicagoland’s Urban Coyotes. Ms. Ashley Wurth described her research findings. 

Ashley Wurth graduated from Colorado State University in 2013. She is now working on her PhD through The Ohio State University School of Environment and Natural Resources Department. Ashley currently works with the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation on the Cook County Coyote Project.  The focus of her research involves  the connections between coyote behavior, genetics, and ecology. She told us about the coyote project, her findings and how to live with the coyotes in our midst.

Click Here to See Slides from Ashley Wurth's
Talk about Urban Coyotes.    

Coyote Talk
The Urban Coyote Project has followed more than 900 coyotes in the Chicago area over the past 15 years. The project team has used GPS collars and “crittercams” to study coyote behavior including their movements and the size of their ranges. They have found, among other things, that urban coyotes are more nocturnal than their wild-land counterparts. The coyotes have learned to negotiate the hazards of roads and railroads, generally avoiding injury and seldom being seen. Dens have been found in golf courses, parks and cemeteries. The Chicago area coyote population is estimated at 2,000 or more.

An overview of the project along with many accounts of particular coyotes that were tracked can be found at the project website, UrbanCoyoteResearch.com

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Can you find this house in Downers Grove and why is it important?
(Click the image for the answer)



Last updated 11/30/2016 

Village Council Meeting
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Meeting Agenda
7:00 pm, Council Chamber

Village Hall
801 Burlington Avenue
Downers Grove, IL 60515

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PDHA Meeting
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
7:00 pm, Room 307,
Lincoln Center,
935 Maple Avenue,
Downers Grove, IL 60515

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Click here to read our
2016 Fall Newsletter

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Please consider
a charitable donation
to support
educational activities of
Pierce Downer's
Heritage Alliance.

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Click here to read about our
2015 Annual Meeting

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Click here to learn about beekeeping in Lyman Woods.

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The 1846 Blodgett House

An opportunity exists to restore the 1846 Blodgett House one of the Village's oldest houses reflecting our rich cultural heritage. PDHA supports such efforts to preserve valuable historic resources for future generations.

Click here to learn about the 1846 Blodgett House project.

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Click here to learn more about other local historic preservation activities in Downers Grove.


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Downers Grove Township Monthly Electronic Recycling

AVA E-Recycling is resuming an electronic recycling program in cooperation with Downers Grove Township Highway Department.

Audio or video cassettes, as well as CD’s, will no longer be accepted and all TV’s will need to have a prepaid coupon from AVA. Please click here to learn more about the new rules for recycling TV's.

The first event is scheduled for March 19th, and runs from 8 AM to 12 PM at the Highway Garage, 318 Quincy Street, Westmont IL 60559. Other events will follow on the third Saturday of each month at the same time and location, unless that date falls on a holiday weekend.
As always the events close promptly at noon and electronics can only be dropped off on event dates. Drop offs outside of designated hours are not allowed.
For further information, please call Downers Grove Township Highway Department at (630) 719-6625.