City of Lake Forest Water Works 1891-1955 1891-1938

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Reference code

US ILfC SC/022

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City of Lake Forest Water Works 1891-1955 1891-1938




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Administrative history

The Lake Forest Water Company began operation in 1891, pumping water from Lake Michigan up to the town and its individual home estates.  George Holt, son of town founder D.R. Holt, was the president for a long term, but by the early 20th C. there were complaints about water rates, and later about water pressure.

After 1921 the City took over operation of the Water Works and service, expanding it with a bond issue in the mid 1920s and then again in 1930, following the economic expansion of Chicago. Many citizens for this reason had seasonal homes in Lake Forest.  The Garden Club of Illinois, Lake Forest and Winnetka, was organized in 1912, and by 1922 the Lake Forest Garden Club was a central force for garden development locally.

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Scope and content

The collection consists of records of the Lake Forest Water Company when it was founded in 1891, the papers of its subsidiaries through 1921, and when it became the City of Lake Forest's Water Works unit in 1921 to 1938, with some records as late as 1955.

The records include a very detailed ledger book listing early estates, indicating the scale of listings of equipment/outlets, and it also lists owners, locations, and changes of ownership in that period. Other major materials in the collection include studies carried out for the city of of Lake Forest by the Chicago-based engineering firm of Pearse, Greeley & Hansen, local correspondence, records, and documents for the city department in the 1920s-1930s, and in one case in 1955.

The collection additionally shows the relationships with state and federal authorities, including the WPA and relates the general growing need for water from the lake by the increasing number of estates and North Shore suburbs.

System of arrangement

The collection is stored in three boxes. It is arranged mainly by subject, but dates are included and can be found upon request if desired. It should also be noted that Box 3 holds the larger sized items including the Commercial Sales Ledger-See Box listings for more details.

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      Immediate source of acquisition

      Donation, ca. 1990s, as conveyed to Mrs. Paddock, a local historian, many years ago by anonymous city staff when material was to be informally deaccessioned/removed.

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