Chesterton Tribune

Historians hear history of little known public preserve in Dune Acres

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The Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary is a property in Dune Acres, not the building which housed the archives of the sanctuary until recently. The building is gone and the landscape of the 3-1/2 acres is being restored.

Don McVickers, who has served on the board of the sanctuary for more that 23 years, spoke to the Duneland Historical Society at the groupís spring dinner Thursday, April 20 at the First United Methodist Church.

McVickers is a professor of anthropology at North Central College in Naperville, Ill. He is the longest serving member of the sanctuary board. His mother, Julia, was a friend of Flora Richardson and served on the board in the early years.

His family and the Richardsons were long time friends and he has fond memories of Flora from his childhood.

William and Flora Richardson lived in Chicago but had a love of the dunes which led them to build a cabin in 1908 in what would later become Dune Acres. William (or Billy) attended the University of Chicago and became chief chemist for Swift and Company.

He was a photographer and left a wealth of photographs and a library of books about nature when he died in 1936.

Flora lived on in Chicago with frequent visits to the dunes and at her death in 1960 her will stipulated that the property was to become a sanctuary and the library maintained as a memorial to her husband.

A board was formed and through the years caretakers lived in the house and educational materials distributed to schools.

In 2005 a decision was made to re-direct the efforts of the foundation and the archives were loaned to the Westchester Public Library. Books in their original bookcases, papers, photographs, glass negatives and a very large case clock (with case made by William Richardson) were moved to the Westchester Township History Museum. Joan Costello has been hired to catalog the archives.

Other future plans include a scholarship program for nature studies.

The Dune Acres property, located on West Road, has 400 feet of beach frontage and may be visited.

The May 17 meeting of the Duneland Historical Society will be at the First Methodist Church and the program presented by Bill Warrick on the History of Ogden Dunes.

Members will receive information about the June 17 trip to Lowell which will include visits to the Buckley Homestead, the Halsted House Museum and lunch at the Cornerstone Mansion.



Posted 4/28/2006