Like so many towns and villages around the Chicago area, Bartlett owes its beginnings to the railroad. The village was named after Luther Bartlett who, in the 1870’s, donated a 40-acre parcel of land to the railroad. The original train depot in Bartlett has been preserved although it’s no longer in use.
With the railroad came Bartlett’s early settlers, many of whom were German immigrants, and it wasn’t too long before factories, shops and houses began to spring up around the tracks. The Bartlett History Museum, which regularly features an interesting display of artifacts in their exhibition area, is located on the first floor of the Village Hall on Main Street.
Two energetic sculptures that caught my eye while we were wandering around the village were a piece entitled ‘Reaching’ by Utah artist Dennis Smith and another, set outside the Community Center, by Randolph Rose entitled Acrobats.
Traveling west on Stearns Road we came across James ‘Pate’ Philip State Park. We’ve been to several nature centers in our area but this was our first visit to this park.
The park, once farmland, is now being returned to its natural prairie roots and there are three comfortable walking trails that take you four miles through 501 acres of tall grass and wild flowers. A bridge spans the north branch of Brewster Creek from where you can see a beaver dam.
The Visitor Center, run by the Bartlett Park District, focuses on the importance of restoring natural areas and also has a splendid collection of reptiles and amphibians in their exhibition room including an enormous Burmese python.
At the southern edge of Bartlett stands one of the most beautiful buildings you could ever wish to see. It’s the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu place of worship.
Built of hand-carved Italian marble and Turkish limestone by more than 2,000 craftsmen, this extraordinary example of classic Indian architecture was completed in 2004.
Whenever I’ve visited the Mandir, the reason for my first visit to Bartlett, I have found the people there to be extremely courteous, friendly and willing to explain the various traditions and ceremonies regarding the Hindu faith. Quite by chance I nearly always seem to arrive on a special occasion when there have been crowds of people attending, but at other times it has seemed like a tranquil retreat and the little bells, tinkling gently high atop the five pinnacles, are the only sounds to be heard.