Book brings Wilmette to life in words, images
9/20/12 Wilmette Co-authors, Patrick Leary and Kathy Hussey Arndtson with their book, "Images of America: Wilmette" at the Wilmette Historical Museum on Thursday, Sept. 20. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
VIEWING THE PAST
WHAT: Wilmette (Arcadia Publishing)
AVAILABLE: Wilmette Historical Museum, 609 Ridge Road; online at www.wilmettehistory.org/newbook.html. Purchasing through the museum ensures it receives a greater percentage of the $21.99 cover price.
Updated: September 27, 2012 8:38AM
WILMETTE — Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but the judicious use of words can inform pictures with even more meaning.
That may be why its satisfying mix of enlightening images and informative words makes Wilmette, by Kathy Hussey-Arntson and Patrick Leary, so hard to put down.
Hussey-Arntson and Leary, respectively director and curator of the Wilmette Historical Museum, 609 Ridge Road in Wilmette, began work last November on Wilmette; the slim but image-rich book was finished in time to celebrate Wilmette’s 140th anniversary.
“We’d thought about doing this for a long time but put it off,” Hussey-Arntson said last week. “But we finally decided this would be a good year to do it.”
She and Leary put the book together thematically — chapters cover Wilmette’s lakefront and its once-notorious “No Man’s Land,” the vanished community of Gross Point, and the history of community life, business and transportation.
Working with Arcadia Publishing, whose easily identifiable sepia-toned history books champion the local lore of communities across the nation, meant she and Leary had to dive into the museum’s 10,000-12,000 strong image archive.
Some of the 200 images that made the cut were staff favorites, like the portrait of Gross Point’s two-man police force. While most were familiar, one image from the 1860s is older than Wilmette and a near-complete mystery to museum staff.
The blurry shot shows a largely male crowd at the intersection of Lake Avenue and Ridge Road, with a wagon in the background. The picture comes from Saint Joseph Church records, but parish officials don’t know its provenance either, Hussey-Arntson said.
Creating the book provided a new way to bring museum resources to village residents, Museum Board President Joseph Hinkel said.
“We came to realize that one of
our really great treasures was our photography collection,” he added. “The book is a great example of the way we take some of those photographs out of the museum, making them widely available to the community.”