“Inside the compact, wood-paneled headquarters of the Hyde Park Historical Society early Saturday afternoon, historical society vice president Mallory Price and summer intern Hugh Shepard enjoyed a short breather before the next wave of visitors filed in.
“The 130-year-old red-brick building, tucked into the Illinois Central Railroad embankment between 55th and 57th streets, was a popular destination in the neighborhood throughout the Open House Chicago weekend, an annual architecture festival put on by the Chicago Architecture Center.
“When a new wave of curious sightseers strolled into the building at 5529 S. Lake Park Ave., Price, Shepard and other society members directed them to a couple of rows of waiting benches positioned in front of a large retractable screen.
“‘It is the history of the Hyde Park Historical Society headquarters building,’ announced Price ahead of screening a short video she produced.
“The building was originally constructed as a depot for the Chicago Street Railway Company that serviced visitors to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. In the early 20th century, the building was converted into a working man’s lunchroom, which closed in 1965. In 1977, the building, then dusty and in disrepair, was sold to the newly formed Hyde Park Historical Society. After significant restoration work, the building opened to the public in 1980. John Vinci, the renovation architect for the building, received an American Institute of Architects Chicago chapter honor award for the restoration the following year.
“The open house event also debuted a years-long historical society project: a set of three self-guided audio tours of Woodlawn’s Oak Wood Cemetery, 1035 E. 67th St. Produced and narrated by Shepard, the tours take visitors on a walking path around the graves of world’s fair visitors, athletes, musicians and scientists.” (Monaghan, Hyde Park Herald, 10/19/23)