The doors to Chicago’s finest places and spaces don’t unlock themselves. This year, we’re introducing you to the passionate, enthusiastic people helping us put Open House Chicago 2017 together.
Heidi Ruehle-May is the executive director of the Pleasant Home Foundation, whose mission is to restore, preserve and operate Pleasant Home, a National Historic Landmark house museum in Chicago’s western suburb of Oak Park. Heidi was instrumental in working with CAF to bring Open House Chicago to Oak Park for the first time in 2016. Her team welcomed almost 3,000 visitors to Pleasant Home during OHC this past October, making it one of the busiest sites outside downtown Chicago.
What is your favorite part about this site? Why should people see it?
Architect George W. Maher took a unique approach in his designs, much different than his fellow Prairie Style architects. Throughout Pleasant Home, he designed intricately carved woodwork, extravagant art glass windows and mosaic tile and an abundance of Victorian light bulbs. Guests are consistently surprised at the opulence within a "modern" design for the turn of the century.
What do you love about Open House Chicago?
It is our goal to open our doors to the public on a daily basis, particularly inviting individuals who are not typical museum-goers. I love Open House Chicago because visitors have free access to so many sites that many may not have the opportunity to visit.
What is the most unusual or most common question you get asked by visitors?
"Are these light bulbs original?" We do use Victorian reproduction bulbs for the hundred or so lights which create a warm glow throughout the home. These bulbs are well-made and last long; however, even Thomas Edison couldn't create a light bulb to last over 100 years!