Each week in Suburban Stadiums, Winnetka and Wilmette Patches will feature two different local athletic facilities, from fitness centers to neighborhood parks. We’ll dive into its history, list what programs it has to offer and provide a calendar of major events hosted at the space.
Envisioned as land that would remain forever green, the Village Green has remained as a playable open area in Winnetka for almost 150 years.
Facility and History: The Village Green was originally donated to Winnetka in 1869 by Charles E. Peck. In his vision, the park would remain an open space for people to gather and play.
Winnetka Park District assumed maintenance of the Village Green in 1914, but only a few major changes have been done to the facility under its direction. A low stone memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. was installed on the southwest corner of the park in 2007and a large war memorial lies on the west edge of the park. It was renovated in 2009.
A playground for kids was installed in 1998, but there are plans to renovate the existing structures.
“About every 10 years we start monitoring our equipment for compliance with safety guidelines and accessibility issues,” said Robert Smith, Winnetka Park District Superintendent of Parks. “About three years ago this came on our radar and we started watching it for items that we would need to replace and we started assessing either replacement or restoration.”
After about 15 meetings with residents, neighbors of the park and village review boards, the park district decided to address some of the safety concerns to the playground equipment. Guidelines from the Consumer Safety Products Commission recommend that play equipment for toddlers and children ages 5-12 should be separated.
So the Park District is planning to install a small play piece for tots along with some play panels a bounce toy that is similar to a teeter totter.
Not many changes have been made to the Village Green because the Park District has been careful to preserve Peck’s original meaning for the space.
“We try to stay to that philosophy, that directive. Even planting trees we’ve very careful that we don’t plop one right in the middle of the park,” Smith said. “It’s just a great gathering place.”
Programs and Events: The Village Green was meant as a place where people could be creative in their choice of recreational activities.
But Winnetka still hosts a handful of holiday events at the Village Green, including Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day ceremonies.
The Winnetka Children’s Fair, a 60-year tradition in the North Shore, showcases rides, games and other activities for preschoolers to preteens to enjoy. The festival usually happens right after school lets out in early June.
November 11: Veterans Day celebration