HP Legends Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  March 27, 2012                    CONTACT:  Laura Knapp 847-757-0480



Julius Rosenwald to be inducted as the first Highland Park Legend;  Museum, City and business owners collaborate on local history program

On May 26th, the Highland Park Historical Society will unveil a bronze plaque for the inaugural Highland Park Legends program.  Highland Park Legends celebrates residents of Highland Park who have made significant contributions to society. The plaque unveiling will occur in front of 650 Central Avenue in downtown Highland Park at 1:00 p.m.  Immediately following the unveiling, the Historical Society will hold its Annual Meeting and a lecture on Julius Rosenwald at 600 Central Avenue, 2nd Floor Atrium.  The lecture is titled, Julius Rosenwald: Highland Park Legend.  The plaque unveiling and lecture are free events. Reservations are required for the lecture and can be made by calling 847-432-7090.  Refreshments will be served.

“Highland Park Legends is an ongoing educational program that was developed to honor important individuals” states Elliott Miller, former President of the Historical Society. “This community has benefited from residents that have made a difference in the lives of many and we will be telling their stories.” The plaque dedication is the first in a series of plaques to be placed on sidewalks in downtown Highland Park noting historically significant residents of this North Shore community. Business owner Larry Hillman, sponsor of the first inductee, worked diligently for several years developing the program and knew the Historical Society was the right organization to lead it.  “Creating a more vital, more interesting pedestrian atmosphere with stronger community connections is essential to restoring success to our Central Business District.”  Hillman said “the Legends program will build community pride and remind all of us, youth in particular, that individual success is within reach.”

Modern technology will become a component of the program and it is envisioned that quick response (QR) codes, interactive maps and brochures, as well as smart phone applications can provide additional historical information linked to the Historical Society’s website and recorded histories. Similar programs exist at the San Antonio River Walk, and Cambridge District in Boston. QR codes have become increasingly used to identify the URL of a company’s website so that smart phone users can photograph the code and retrieve information about the organization.

The program is a collaboration between the Historical Society, the City and downtown Highland Park business owners. Nominations of individuals are managed and researched through the Historical Society, the proposed inductees are presented and voted upon by the City Council and a sponsor is designated to purchase, install and contribute to a City fund for maintaining the bronze plaque to be installed in a sidewalk in the downtown area.  Inductee requirements include:  living or having lived in Highland Park; having substantially contributed to the arts, science, commerce, or entertainment fields of Highland Park, to the State of Illinois, or to the greater United States.

Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932) was a businessman, philanthropist and humanitarian responsible for transforming Sears, Roebuck and Co. into the greatest mail order firm in the world.  In addition, he was a principal founder of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry as well as an avid supporter and provider of schools and opportunities to educate poor African-American children in the rural south.  The estate was purchased from the family by the City of Highland Park.  The park is known today as Rosewood Beach Park. Rosenwald’s Grandson, Peter Ascoli, will lecture on Rosenwald and discuss his 2006 book, Julius Rosenwald: The Man Who Built Sears, Roebuck and Advanced the Cause of Black Education in the American South, published by Indiana University Press.

The Highland Park Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization formed in 1966.  The museum is a 12-room, two-story Italianate Victorian house donated to the Society in 1969, by Jean Butz James.  The Society’s mission is to discover, preserve, provide access to, and disseminate the history of Highland Park. The Historical Society is a 2010 recipient of an $86,000 Basic Processing and Preservation Planning Project matching grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the granting agency of the National Archives and Records Administration. For more information about the Highland Park Legends program or about our organization, please visit the museum during open hours (Wednesday through Friday 1-4 p.m. and Sunday 2-4 p.m.), email, call 847-432-7090, or go to