A Brief History of The Grove
Preserving Our Roots
The 143 acre nature preserve and National Historic Landmark known as The Grove was once owned by early Glenview-area settler and noted horticulturalist Dr. John Kennicott and his son Robert, a pioneer naturalist and explorer. Dr. Kennicott brought his family here from New Orleans in 1836, living first in a log cabin before building the home known as the Kennicott House in 1856 to shelter his growing family.
Throughout the years, family members moved away and the Kennicott land was sold to several different buyers. That would have been the end of the story had it not been for the tireless efforts of a group of dedicated individuals who were determined to make sure that the historical significance of this family and the land was not forgotten. In 1973, when it appeared that a large development of high-density residential units was slated for construction on Grove land, this group formed the Save The Grove Committee.
Over the next three years, the Save The Grove Committee, affectionately known locally as the “Frog and Fern Ladies”, played a vital role in preserving this important historic site. Through their efforts, The Grove was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Their next step was to approach the Glenview Park Board about purchasing land in The Grove. The Park Board put the decision to a referendum in October of 1974 to determine community support and 88% voted in favor of taking this action.
Land acquisition had already begun in July 1974 when the Zenith Corporation donated six acres including the Kennicott House to the park district. By February 1975, acquisition of the eastern 30 acres was complete and in the fall of 1979, the planned land acquisition was finished. Nine different ownership parcels of land totaling 82 acres were acquired and Federal and State matching funds exceeded $1,000,000.
Their initial goal achieved, the Save The Grove Committee became the Grove Heritage Association in 1976, the same year The Grove was designated a National Historic Landmark. This citizen support group has donated thousands of volunteer hours and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit The Grove.
In 1995, acquisition of an additional 41 available acres at The Grove was completed through a combined land donation from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and land purchase supported by in part by a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and a $400,000 donation commitment from the Grove Heritage Association.
In the years since the park district acquired The Grove, several significant improvements have been made to enhance The Grove’s ability to tell the story of its human and natural history. These include the restoration of the 1856 Kennicott House in 1983, recreation of the historic Grove Schoolhouse in 1987, construction of the
Interpretive Center nature center in 1989, and construction of a replica Pottawatomie longhouse in 1997. A waterproof, fireproof archives building to house The Grove’s vast collection of original Kennicott family papers and artifacts was completed in 2005. In 2007, The Grove exhibited a comprehensive study on the 17-year Cicada. The exhibit drew attention from local and network news including Pioneer Press, Chicago Tribune, NBC Nightly News, National Public Radio and more.
Today the Grove welcomes close to 200,000 visitors annually including casual visitors, school groups, day camps, business meetings, college classes, weddings and private parties.