All invited to join fundraising campaign

Series: Hinsdale 150 | Story 35

Almost a century ago, Hinsdale residents came together and raised almost $150,000 in a single week to pay for a new building to honor those who fought in the first World War.

Village leaders hope residents will do the same this year to fund improvements to the Memorial Building in honor of the village's 150th anniversary.

"They had a committee 100 years ago for how to create a memorial and they wanted it to be something lasting and something that would serve the community going forward and really be a place where people could gather, and this building has done that," said former Trustee Laurel Haarlow, one of the campaign's organizers. "It continues to do that. That vision has taken us forward for 100 years.

"How great it is to have the opportunity to show our civic pride and honor what those people did in the past and honor our future by upgrading these areas around the building and basically taking that next step forward for the future of Hinsdale."

Creating a new patio at the building's south entrance, facing Burlington Park, and replacing the original Chippendale roof railing, were among several ideas discussed by the village's 150th anniversary committee, said Trustee Michelle Fisher, who is working with Haarlow on the campaign.

"The village plaza and the roof railing was something that really resonated and hit home," Fisher said. "(The Memorial Building) truly is the centerpiece of our village and a place we all want folks to gather and enjoy."

The two are working with Trustee Alexis Braden and former Trustee Bill Haarlow (Laurel's husband) to raise $350,000 to $450,000 for both projects. A group is currently reviewing plans for the new patio and landscaping with an eye toward value engineering.

"This is a big deal for our village and we want to make sure we get this right," Fisher said.

The village has created six different donation levels, ranging from $249 or less to $10,000 or more. All are tax deductible. Individuals, families and businesses are invited to participate, and donors will be recognized on a plaque placed near the patio. The village has sent emails to businesses and will include a slip with the September water bill residents receive in September. The goal is to complete fundraising by the end of the year and to break ground on the patio in the spring.

The sense of history and community are especially strong for Haarlow and her husband, who grew up here.

"I just love how vibrant our community is now with people who want to move here, who want to be a part of it, people who want to move back here because they remember how great it was," she said. "Part of what made it special is the community did come together for things like this."

All but two families in town, according to accounts, participated in the original building campaign in 1927. Haarlow and Fisher would love to see that level of engagement again.

"What a great way for our community to come together again for the 150th," Fisher said. "We're asking folks to be part of it, to be part of history."

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean