Genuine Northwest: Winter Edition

Check out these destinations that reflect the genuine character of our region.

Library Hall

21 N. Washington St., Carpentersville

Julius Angelo Carpenter achieved much in his life. The Carpentersville founder constructed a bridge over the Fox River, served as the local postmaster and state legislator, and led the passage of Illinois’ Library Act in 1872.

Following his death in 1880, his widow, Mary Carpenter Lord, dedicated one of the town’s first buildings to her late husband and the community he established.

The Romanesque-style Library Hall was built in 1896 as a multi-purpose community center. The upstairs housed a library, a ladies’ parlor and a meeting room while the basement served as a community center and a gathering place for the Congregational Church.

Trust funds established by Carpenter Lord sustained the library for 25 years until financial constraints led to a decline in public use. The building served as a branch of the Dundee Township Library from 1959 until 1969, when Dundee Township consolidated its library services into one building, leaving Library Hall with antique books and insufficient funds.

The Congregational Church supported the building and rented it out until 1971, when the Dundee Township Park District purchased it.

Library Hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and retains its original charm with beveled glass windows, stained art glass and some original furniture. It now houses offices for Carpentersville’s D300 Food Pantry, the Dundee Township Park District and the Washington Street Preschool.

The Riviera

812 Wrigley Dr., Lake Geneva, (262) 344-8246, lakegenevariviera.com

Architect James Roy Allen designed this Italian Renaissance Revival-style reception hall during the Great Depression. The project was initiated by Lake Geneva city authorities and funded with public bonds to generate employment for the city.

The two-story brick building boasts corner towers, a hipped ceramic tile roof and symmetrical facades. Internally, a central parquet dance floor is surrounded by a promenade containing towers housing restrooms and facilities. Outside, there’s a landscaped grassy area and wooden piers that extend over Geneva Lake.

Originally named Northport, the building was inaugurated on May 22, 1933. Ever since, it has been a landmark for the region’s tourism, including its original design as a launch site for tour boats on the lake.

Through the 1950s, the ballroom hosted renowned musicians including Tommy Dorsey, Glen Miller and Louis Armstrong. Artists like Chubby Checker, Herman’s Hermits and Stevie Wonder performed on the ballroom’s Top Deck in the 1970s.

The building was renovated and repurposed as a hub for civic events in 1983. Three years later, it earned a spot on the state and national Register of Historic Places.

Restoration efforts were led by local architect Daniel Curran, who successfully preserved the structure’s architectural integrity and historical significance.

Today, the ballroom hosts weddings, corporate events and other social gatherings.

Cary Veterans Park

U.S. Rt. 14 at Crystal Street, Cary, (847) 639-6100, carypark.com

Spanning more than 6 acres, this park was originally a sprawling wetland before it was earmarked for park use in the 1910s. At its heart sits Cary Pond, a reservoir created during a 1930s Works Progress Administration initiative.

Over the years, the park has gone through significant changes. In 1947, local sculptor George Suchy donated the Suchy Fountain to honor veterans. In 1980, the Cary Park District assumed ownership.
Perhaps this park’s most significant feature is its veterans memorial, perched atop the hill off Park Avenue. The memorial was a gift from Raymond Wascher of Post No. 275 of the American Legion in Cary.

Two stone blocks, each adorned with bronze plaques, pay homage to World War II veterans from the area. Two World War I-era cannons, three flags and a stone monument also honor those who have served in our nation’s armed forces.

The memorial takes centerstage during tribute ceremonies on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.