I think we’ve probably been visiting Oak Brook for years without even realizing it. You know how it is when you come across an interesting place without really knowing exactly what town you’re in. When I decided on Oak Brook as my next port of call for these Suburban Travels and started doing some research, I was surprised to find that I was already familiar with one or two of the Village’s more notable sites.
I’ll begin by mentioning McDonald’s Corporate Headquarters and Hamburger University, only because by next year they will no longer be in Oak Brook. I got to know Hamburger University through the American Lung Association Walks which were held in the grounds in early autumn. The first time I participated, I captured this image of a re-creation of Ray Kroc’s office that was set up in the lobby of the University.
Apart from the fact that these walks were for a very worthy cause, it was a pleasant experience strolling through the grounds on Jorie Boulevard.
Graue Mill, on York Road, is one of those places that we’ve visited several times in the past. Water from nearby Salt Creek was first used to turn the wheel at the mill in 1852 and Frederick Graue kept it in operation for 70 years, grinding wheat, corn and other grains, until modern methods made it obsolete.
The mill eventually fell into disrepair and it wasn’t until 1950, when local residents formed an organization to restore it to its former condition, that it took on a new lease on life. The building now houses a museum that illustrates life at the mill and in the surrounding area from the mid to late 1800’s, but although water was running through the wheel when we first visited, subsequent trips have indicated that it might no longer be functioning.
Our latest visit to the mill was just after some very heavy rains and Salt Creek was racing over the dam, on its way from Fullersburg Woods which is just a little further along the road. Oak Brook was originally named Fullersburg after an early settler, Ben Fuller.
For those of you who enjoy a walk along easy nature trails, Fullersburg Woods is the place to go, in Oak Brook. They have an interesting Nature Education Center located right next to Salt Creek where you can sit out on the deck and enjoy the sun (if the weather cooperates.)
Mayslake Peabody Estate is another one of the places that we’ve visited before, although this time was our first look inside the Hall itself. Mayslake Hall, a Tudor Revival-style mansion, was built for coal magnate Francis Stuyvesant Peabody in 1919.
Mayslake was named after his first wife and their daughter and was part of an 848-acre estate which included a farm that supported 60 buildings. What remains of the estate is now owned by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage. They are in the process of restoring the house and you can take a tour on Wednesdays and Saturdays to see how it’s progressing.
Also in the Mayslake grounds is a beautiful replica of the Portiuncula Chapel in Assisi, Italy. More about this and the Mayslake Peabody Estate in a future post.
After a busy day exploring it’s time to head over to Oakbrook Center for something to eat. Oakbrook is an upscale shopping mall that opened in 1962, although many big-name stores have come and gone since then. Thank goodness The Cheesecake Factory is still there!