History That's Good for the Soul

A Healthy Respect for Preservation in Downtown Long Grove.

Article by Jody Grimaldi

Photography by Provided by Aaron Underwood

Originally published in SW Lake Lifestyle

Historic Downtown Long Grove, celebrated for its vintage charm and legendary covered bridge, is coming together to preserve history through the creation of a historical campus as a new visitor attraction. 

Supported by a coalition of local government and community groups, the goal is to move an iconic barn and one-room school while making way for an expanded Village Hall better suited for managing the affairs of a growing community.

“History is on the move in Long Grove,” according to Ryan Messner, President of the Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association.  “The community here is once again collaborating on a project to preserve our storied past so others may enjoy it for years to come.”

In the 1840s, long before it became known for its festivals and “frozen in time” buildings, downtown Long Grove was a homestead for the Ruth family. By 1980 the population had swelled to 2,000, and the last relic of the homestead farm, Ruth Barn, was moved next to Village Hall located down a long driveway behind Kildeer Countryside Elementary School (east of Old McHenry Road). A few years earlier, in 1977, one of the area’s original one-room schools, Archer School, was also moved onto the Village Hall property.

After restoring the school and barn, grade-school students, and teachers from across the area made an annual pilgrimage to Archer School. While there they spent the morning with docents (often the mayor, board members and volunteers) to recreate the experience of a one-room school. The field trip included visiting a “farmer in Ruth Barn” who shared Long Grove history and explained how the farm implements of yesteryear worked.

Flash forward to today when Long Grove’s population has grown to 8,400 and the quaint and crowded Village Hall is no longer suitable as a base for managing village operations. The board has a plan to expand Village Hall, but Ruth Barn sits squarely in the way. The solution is to literally “pick up and move” Ruth Barn and Archer School downtown in March 2024, adjacent to a historic farmhouse.

Related programming and perhaps an associated festival are also being considered to attract more residents and tourists downtown.  The Historic Downtown Long Grove Business Association, Long Grove Historical Society, Long Grove Village Government, and the local Lions Club are pledging support and resources.

As they did with the restored and historic covered bridge, the Long Grove Historical Society is organizing a fund drive to help with the costs of the project. Those interested in contributing skills, resources, or dollars, should contact treasurer@LongGroveHistory.org to learn how to get involved.  Learn more at LongGrove.org.

Pull quote>>> Archer School and the Ruth Barn will make the trek to a new home in the southwest corner of the Stemple Parking lot near Buffalo Creek Brewing and the Long Grove Historical Society.

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