The Lombard Historic Preservation Commission has worked in earnest since 2008, to secure the prominence of Lombard’s Lilacia Park to be included in the Federal National Register. The Commission saw their hard work and perseverance completed on May 9, 2019, when the historic park received the noteworthy recognition and was placed on the official list of National Register of Historic Places.
The National Register of Historic Places is the official Federal list of the Nation’s historic locations considered worthy of preservation. It identifies, evaluates and protects historical and archeological resources. The National Register is overseen by the U.S. National Park Service.
The Lombard Historic Preservation Commission is tasked with managing the Village’s interest in public and private historic sites throughout the Lombard community.
“Lilacia Park is one of the most unique and historical aspects of the Village of Lombard and having the park placed on the National Register of Historic Places bring national recognition to what Lombard has accomplished,” said Rita M. Schneider, Chairperson of the Lombard Historic Preservation Commission. “It is important to preserve Lilacia Park’s historic significance and gives it prominence.
”There was a step-by-step process that the members of the Historic Preservation Commission were required to complete before receiving the Federal designation. The Commission worked with Village officials to become a Certified Local Government (CLG). The CLG program is a partnership between local, state and federal governments to help communities save irreplaceable historic character. The CLG standing allowed the Village of Lombard to obtain a grant to be used for the cost of the National Register application process.
In 2014, the Historic Commission hired a professional consultant to help complete the Village’s first official survey and to identify historically significant properties as landmarks eligible of preservation. Lilacia Park was amongst the 106 local properties identified. The Historic Commission met with Lombard Park District officials during the application process and the officials consented to allow the Historic Commission to submit a National Register application for Lilacia Park. The cost of application for the historic designation was covered by a federal grant through the CLG program and administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
As the Village celebrates its 150th anniversary of its founding, it seems fitting that the recognition was received during this year’s annual Lilac Time celebration. Historic Lilacia Park began with Colonel William and Helen Plum’s 2-1/2 acre estate which was increased to the 6 acres that Jens Jensen designed in 1929. Jensen is a noted 20th Century landscape architect whose designs include Garfield Park and Columbus Park in Chicago. Later additions to the Park have increased its size to 7.8 acres. Plum is one of the original Village board members that established Lombard’s charter in 1869.
“We received the news that Lilacia Park was bestowed the National Register status during Lilac Time,” said Schneider. “Recognizing the park on the National Register of Historic Places celebrates the heritage, importance and contributions of the land that lies at the heart of the Lilac Village.”
Lilacia Park is known internationally as one of the foremost collections of lilacs with many specimens brought to the US from Europe by the Plums. The 1870s Coach House, originally Colonel Plum’s home and surrey barn, is included in the boundaries of the National Register site. To learn more about the Lombard Historical Preservation Commission, visit www.villageoflombard.org/historiccommission