Riverwoods Preservation Council

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In Our Own Backyard - Chapter 2 Extract


We've long known of the vast Midwestern prairie to the west, and the great glacier-carved lakes to the east, yet here we are, sandwiched between those two massive geologic features, in a land of leafy shade along the banks of a meandering old river. How did that happen?


In Jane Ware Davenport's 1984 book, A Village Remembers: Riverwoods after 25 Years, she describes Riverwoods of the 1960's as an area rich in such small game as mink, muskrat, weasels, badgers, foxes and skunks, and so heavily forested that residents sometimes became temporarily lost in their own woods! Deer, rarely seen in the early years, became more numerous and visible as development increased. "There was a time when cranes hatched their families in a cottonwood grove south of Ringland Road," when the many natural ponds in the woods "were ringed with march marigolds, and when folks could - and unfortunately would - pick armfuls of yellow lady's slipper," which were not then protected by law.

OpossumMany here remember that as recently as the late 1980's, the area south of Deerfield Road was "solid with trillium" in early spring, almost as if covered with snow. She writes, "In spite of the conscientious efforts of George Herrmann (1888 - 1980) and other conservationists of the area, ... some of Riverwoods' most beautiful and exceptional flowers have disappeared or become very rare." The same may be said of the wrens, bluebirds, tanagers, and woodcocks that frequented the Village. Today, these species are rarely, if ever, seen and many of the remaining owls, hawks, and other birds are threatened.

HumrichIt is not surprising that those who chose to live in such idyllic natural surroundings would build homes with relatively open floor plans and many floor-to-ceiling windows, designed to bring the outdoors inside and to blend seamlessly into their landscapes. The well-regarded, self-taught designer Edward Humrich, whose houses fit into their natural environment with minimal impact, designed about forty homes here. Typically, low-slung ranches with flat roofs, and built using standard, readily available materials, the Humrich homes are distinctive for their integration of function and nature, and are still highly prized today....

[In 2006 Landmarks Illinois placed Riverwoods on its watch list. See the Landmarks Illinois watch list for more information.]

© Riverwoods Preservation Council- - Page last updated: December 2009