Thursday, December 4, 2014

Throwback Christmas!

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that it’s “that time of year again”. Christmas decorations are going up all over Arlington Heights and the Arlington Heights Historical Museum is no different.
Here at the Museum, we have two historic houses that staff and volunteers decorate. We don’t just throw lights up though. Research and planning goes into decorating the interior of historic homes at the Arlington Heights Historical Museum.

The 1906 Banta House will be fully decorated after December 15th, but the Muller House, which was built in 1882 by F.W. Muller, is fully decorated following Victorian traditions of the time, with hints of the Muller’s German heritage sprinkled throughout.  

The Christmas tree is a tradition that the Mullers would have followed. In Germany, evergreen trees were seen as a symbol of life through the dark, cold winter and Christmas trees were popular there back to the 1700s. When Prince Albert, who was German, introduced this to his wife Queen Victoria of England in 1941, it quickly took off and became wildly popular.

Victorian Christmas tree in the Muller House

The Victorian Christmas didn’t focus as much on the commercialization of the Holiday as we do now, but gifts were still important.  The Victorians began planning their presents many months ahead.  The most cherished gifts were handmade, needlework, or something useful.  People exchanged remembrances with family and friends. 

Greenery and ivy plants were also an important part of the Victorian Christmas, so the Muller House was decorated with the plants as well. Holly was believed to ward off evil spirits and ivy intertwined with the red berries represented the two halves of the divinity.

Tours of all the A.H. Museum buildings are on Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 and start at the Heritage Gallery off of Fremont St. Tours are $4 for adults, $2 for kids, BUT throughout the month of December tours are free on Sundays with the donation of a canned good that will be donated to local food pantries. 

Helping your community, while learning about the heritage of Arlington Heights, that's a holiday tradition worth celebrating. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Food Fridays: Start a new Thanksgiving tradition with this easy, no bake dessert!

Last week on Food Friday we mentioned how traditions had been formed around food. With the Holidays just around the corner, we thought we’d elaborate on how food, tradition, and a sense of community went hand in hand throughout the history of Arlington Heights.
Socializing has always been an important part of life in Arlington Heights, and what better way to socialize then over food?!

In the very early days of Arlington Heights, socializing meant getting together for a barn raising. While the men worked to build the structure, the women of the community would work together to create a meal. After the day’s work was done, everyone would sit down together for the meal. This made socializing a benefit of working hard.

Throughout the 1800s people socialized and ate any chance they could; church suppers, funerals, weddings are just a few examples.

Businessmen's Banquet

In the late 1800s, Meyer’s Pond became a local hangout. Food may not have been the highlight of going there, but they offered picnic space, homemade ice cream and beverages to engage people.

After World War II, the tradition of a block party came to being. These were great ways for entire neighborhoods to catch up over snacks, meals, and games.

Every family has different Thanksgiving traditions, but one thing remains the same, it’s all about the food! Below is a recipe for Swedish Cocoa Balls. It was submitted by Arlington Heights Historical Museum volunteer, and Arlington resident of 56 years, Sharon Combs. It is an easy, no bake dessert that is a good way to get kids involved in the celebration.

Recipe from The Arlington Heritage Cookbook. Photos are from Chronicles of a Prairie Town. Both books are on sale now through the end of the year at the Arlington Heights Historical Museum. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Phyllis Mustain: Preserving childhood memories for generations come

The Arlington Heights Historical Museum is proud to announce that we will now be highlighting one of our many awesome volunteers once a month.

Our first Volunteer of the Month is Phyllis Mustian. Phyllis works with our Martha Mills Doll Collection and is such a wonderful attribute to the Museum.

Martha Mills was born in 1885 & was a resident of Arlington Heights who grew up with a love of dolls. Her mother only let her have two dolls as a child, so when she was older she began collecting and making dolls of all sorts. The dolls that she collected date back to the early 1900s, and the dolls she created were all made by hand between 1949 & 1963. Her dolls won her national awards and have been on display in Detroit, Miami, New York, and San Francisco.

Since she began working with the Doll Collection in 2010, Phyllis has conducted an audit of the entire collection, maintained an up to date photo directory of the dolls, managed repairs of the dolls, & created lovely exhibits to highlight the variety of the collection. With over 1,000 dolls, not all can be on display at one time. Phyllis has designed lovely exhibits around certain themes; circus, fashion, celebrations, books, etc.

With all the dolls we currently have and new ones being donated regularly, Phyllis could use some help. If you would be interested in giving a few hours of your time once a month to continue this tradition that is a jewel in the crown of the Arlington Heights Historical Museum, please call 847-225-1225. Any amount of time would be greatly appreciated.

Once again, we want to thank Phyllis Mustain for all her hard work in maintaining this exhibit. We value all the work you do beyond what we can express in this short post.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Food Fridays; Warming your soul with history and good eats

Food is a very important, and often overlooked, part of our history. Food brings people together to celebrate, to mourn, and to simply enjoy each other’s company. Communities begin and carry on traditions based solely on how food is prepared or how it’s eaten.

In 2006, the Arlington Heights Historical Society reached out to different Arlington Heights residents and compiled recipes, historical photographs traditions, stories, and folklore. Staff at the Historical Museum hope you get inspired to start, or carry on your own traditions, try a new recipe, or just to get a good laugh out of some of the Food Folklore. Whatever your reason for reading this, we hope it fills you with warmth as we enter the cold, Winter season. 

Mary Carol Frieburg's famous Chicken a la King

The recipe we wish to share is from Mary Carol Frieburg. She celebrated her
90th birthday earlier this Fall and has been a resident of Arlington Heights for 56 years. Her Chicken A La King recipe is a family favorite that is requested many times a year by her large family.
The recipe below feeds a small army, so it is perfect for a gathering of friends or family. Mary Carol estimates that it feeds 8-12 people, so feel free to cut portions in half to feed a small group, or double it if you're feeding a large army. 

Below are some of the Food Folklore, photographs, and historical information that this cookbook is full of. With more than just recipes inside its front and back cover, the Arlington Heights Cookbook would make a great gift to any chefs, history buffs, Arlington Heights lovers, or Arlington Heights missers who have had to move away from the area for jobs or schooling, etc. Throughout the holiday season they will be on sale for $10 at the Arlington Heights Historical Museum's Heritage Gallery Gift Shop. They can also be ordered over the phone, plus the price of shipping, at 847-255-1225.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Family Holiday Pictures; the good, the bad, and the ugly

For most families, that holiday picture is a nightmare before Christmas!

Getting the kids to behave is a nightmare 

So, you decide to have a professional picture taken, only to find out it can not be reproduced without the photographer's consent.

Eventually you give up, and just do something like this.


Images by DavidKay and the Historical Museum can make that holiday photo so much easier and special. 

Bill Kruser and Cindy Kuffel will take your portraits and email them to you all for one flat fee. You can use the photos for your holiday cards or print it to hang on a wall. 

The backdrop of the historic Müller House's front parlor, decked with greenery and stockings, makes a unique and special holiday photo this year.

Families of four or less, sign up for one sitting, Families of more than four need to register for two consecutive sittings. Register one family member for your sitting, please note number of family members at time of registration.Go to & programs to register for your sitting time. 

Our only request is that your family comes fully clothed.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Young girls playing in Arlington Heights, 1914

Old MacDonald Day at the Arlington Heights Historical Society Museum, 1993

Today is #TBT, but it’s not Throwback Thursday, it’s Throwback Toys!

Before we talk about the above pictures, we have a game! It should not be too hard, but see if you can figure out this quick history of toys.

The toys children have played with have varied greatly over time. From cornhusk dolls to EZBake Ovens, Tinker Toys to robot dogs, some things have prevailed to always be true in the world of children’s toys.

One thing that has always been true about children’s toys is that they use the latest technology available. In the 1940’s it was electric trains that were utilizing technology. In the 1970’s and 80’s developing technology gave way to the EZBake Oven. While we’re talking about technology, let’s not forget Barbie! She was created because of advancing technology, and cause there’s only so many things a paper doll can do. Since her debut in 1959, Barbie has had many careers in the technology field. She was an astronaut in 1965 and was most recently was an oncologist fighting cancer.

Another aspect that has stayed prevelant is the popularity of action figures and building toys. Today it is Transformers, in the 1960’s and 70’s, it was G.I. Joe. The popularity of these toys never seems to waiver. Also still popular are building toys like Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys that rose to popularity in the 1940’s. If we had to bet, we’d say that parents will forever be stepping on, and cursing, those little Legos.

Despite all the technology available to kids these days, simple toys still retain their magic. Yo-yos, kites, a baseball, and a doll can still bring a smile to a child’s face. Other toys that are still popular are “Cup & Ball”, Jacob’s Ladder, Cat’s Cradle string game, and puzzles. If you’re looking for stocking stuffers, or items to keep the children busy in the car, all of these are available at the Arlington Heights Historical Museum’s Heritage Shop. 


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Throwback Thursday

To celebrate this beautiful season when two of America’s favorite traditions are in full swing, we are featuring two Throwback Thursday pictures.

The first is of the Arlington High School Baseball team circa 1910.
Though they are not pictured, Arlington High School produced some very talented players.

Dick Bokelmann, born in 1926, was a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1951-1953.

Fritz Peterson played for the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, and the Texas Rangers from 1966-1976. His best year was in 1970 when he went 20-11 with the Yankees and pitched in the All-Star game.

Paul Splittorff, also a starting pitcher, played for the Kansas City Royals from 1970-1984. I bet he’d love to see their current play-off run.

George Vukovich was an outfielder who played for the Philadelphia Philllies and the Cleveland Indians from 1980-1985.

The second photo is of the Arlington High School football team from 1938. There a quite a few notable alumni from this program as well.

Doug Betters was a defense end for the Miami Dolphins from 1978-1987. This sixth round draft pick helped the Dolphins make it to the Super Bowl in 1983 & 1985. Unfortunately, they lost both times, but Betters was named the “NFL Defensive Player of the Year” in 1983.

George Bork is another notable graduate of the Arlington High School Football program. Though he never made it to the NFL, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame for 1963 season at Northern Illinois University when he became the first college quarterback, at any level, to throw for 3,000 yards in one season.

Photographs like this are great to share the strong heritage that is present in Arlington Heights. Reproductions of these photos, as well as many more, are available at the Museum’s Heritage Gallery store. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Throwback Thursday, Arlington Heights style!

This photo shows the Banta family sitting on their front porch in 1913 and the current view of that same spot, on the corner of Euclid and Vail, today.

Nathaniel Banta is center, his wife Minnie is on the right, and daughter Elizabeth is on the left.

Nathaniel Banta had the craftsman style bungalow built in 1908. Nathaniel bought the property from his wife’s father, Frederick W. Muller. Muller owned the house at the corner of Vail and Fremont, which is less than a block away. Today both houses currently sit on the Arlington Heights Historical Museum grounds. It was the first home in Arlington Heights to be designed by an architect, W.W. Abell and Son out of Elgin. The prairie and craftsman style exterior, especially the porch, reflects the popular styles of the time.

The front porch was a very popular area for families to gather for a good portion of the year. It was also a very social place. Remember they did not have televisions to gather around. Often times you would see neighbors walking to the market, commuters coming and leaving the train station, etc. Since Minnie’s parents lived so close, it is likely that they often accompanied them for an evening on the porch.

This view of the picture hasn’t changed much, but the area surrounding the Banta house has. Euclid and Vail now have cars zooming past all day. Also, looking across the street from the porch is a different scene. Today you see the the library when you look out. The Banta’s would have seen the houses of their neighbors and the people coming and going from there. Even though it was all houses across the street, the Banta family would have still seen the library, but that story is for another #tbt. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

New exhibit, new blog, how exciting!

Just a few of the many pieces of art featured at our new exhibit

We are so glad that you are taking the time to read the Arlington Heights Historical Museum's inaugural post! We hope to post a few times a week highlighting our programs, historical recipes, and interesting topics in Arlington Heights history, so be sure to come back!

Arlington Artists on Display
Our new exhibit opened to the public, so be sure to stop by and see the beautiful pieces of art on display. Once again, the Arlington Heights Historical Museum’s Heritage Gallery is transformed into an art gallery. 
Come enjoy the original works of more than 40 talented individuals who live, work, or enhance the arts within our very own community. 
Various types of media are presented in the 13th annual Arlington Artists on Display exhibition including: watercolor, oil, pastel, acrylic, mixed media, glass, paper, photographic based imagery, textiles , and wood. Opening on Saturday, October 4, Arlington Artists on Display can be viewed in the Heritage Gallery until January 25, 2015.

Upcoming Events
Pumpkin Fairy House: Oct. 21
Mail Order Homes in the Suburbs: Oct. 23
Paranormal Night at the Museum: Oct. 25
 Call 847-255-1225 for more information on any of our programs or exhibits.