332 W. Downer Place, Aurora, healychapel.com
This Prairie School-style building was designed by renowned architect George Elmslie, a colleague of Frank Lloyd Wright and chief draftsman for Louis Sullivan.
Elmslie’s firm was the most prolific among Prairie School designers, and Aurora possesses the largest collection of its commercial buildings.Along with Healy Chapel there are the Keystone and Graham buildings, on historic Stolp Island; the Old Second National Bank; and the German-American Bank.
In 1891, William Healy opened a furniture store that doubled as a mortuary. When brother Arthur became a partner, the pair moved to Downer Place as Healy Undertaking Service, which introduced the motorized hearse to Aurora, and provided its own chapel.
The current building, constructed down the street from the original, was completed in 1928 for $100,000; it remains an active funeral home, run by a fifth generation of Healys.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, the structure was renovated in 1986. In typical Prairie School style, horizontal lines and groupings are prominent in the design.
The building is constructed of Roman brick with terra cotta and glazed tile embellishments. Inside, the area for day-to-day functions is boxier and less ornate than the chapel. Framed by recessed stained glass windows specifically designed for it, the chapel is finished in black walnut, and more organic, curved and geometric elements are found here. The other two floors are finished in oak and birch, respectively.
Fox Valley Wildlife Center (FVWC)
45W061 Hwy. 38, Elburn, (630) 635-3800, foxvalleywildlife.org
This is the only wildlife rehabilitation center in Kane County, and is based in an unused ranger’s house inside the Kane County Forest Preserve. The private, non-profit organization opened its doors in January 2001, and its small staff and dedicated volunteers treat upwards of 2,500 injured and orphaned wild creatures per year, a number that continues to rise.
The center must maintain both state and federal licenses but receives no government funding, relying solely on private sponsorship and donations to operate. The average cost of caring for an animal is $40.
As more and more natural areas are developed, causing wildlife habitats to dwindle, the need for facilities like FVWC grows. Rehabbers estimate that 90 percent of the animals they treat suffer injuries caused by human activity, including attacks by pet cats and dogs; collisions with vehicles, buildings or windows; hunting/trapping; pollution/litter; and poisonings.
FVWC specializes in nestling birds and “pinky” squirrels – babies without their eyes open – but will care for any wild creatures except skunks, bats, adult raccoons and adult deer.
The main goal is rehabilitation and release, but animals that can’t fend for themselves in the wild become FVWC animal “educators.” Education is an important goal of wildlife rehabilitators, and FVWC holds off-site programs for groups like garden clubs, Scouts and grade schools in Kane County, November through March.
FVWC accepts animals daily, October through March, from 8 a.m. to noon; emergency requests by phone or through email@example.com will be answered the next day.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center
601 N. Martingale Road, Schaumburg (847) 592-9700, legolanddiscoverycenter.com
This destination, which is based on everyone’s favorite childhood toy, opened in 2008.
The LEGO story began in 1932, when Master Carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen started building wooden toys in his woodworking shop in Denmark. Taking his cue from the Danish phrase, “leg godt,” or “play well,” Christiansen named his company LEGO in 1934 and began using plastic injection-molding in 1947.
At LEGOLAND, a 4D cinema adds elements like wind and rain to the glasses-wearing 3D effect. On the Adventure Trail, explore a “jungle,” keeping a watchful eye out for LEGO animals. The Dragon Ride takes visitors through a medieval castle occupied by animated LEGO models, and on the new Technicycle, riders go higher and faster, the harder they pedal. See a miniature Chicago made up of 190,000 LEGO bricks. Build LEGO vehicles and race them on a ramp in the Build & Test Zone. Visit the Princess Castle.
The Hall of Fame features famous fictional heroes made out of LEGOs. A factory tour display not only shows how LEGOS are made, but lets visitors press buttons to assist in the process. A DUPLO village gives smaller visitors a place to try their hand at construction. A Soft Play Zone features a jungle gym and climbing wall.
There’s a café, LEGO gift shop, group tours and facilities for parties. Hours: Mon.-Fri. noon-7 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; last admission is at 5 p.m.