In addition to the variety of cultural amenities found within an hour’s drive in Chicago, West Chicago itself offers a wealth of cultural attractions and activities.
History is important to West Chicago; the city’s museums and historic sites preserve and celebrate the past. The West Chicago City Museum is housed in what was from 1884 to 1976, Turner Town Hall. The narrow two-story building, typical of the era in which it was built, is now listed on the National Register of Historical Places.
The Museum’s large and comprehensive collection includes thousands of items – artifacts, memorabilia, documents, photographs, clothing, furniture and other pieces – pertaining to local history, with a particular focus on railroads. It also features extensive research files on genealogy, area businesses and homes, city and area history, railroads, and other subjects. Many of the museum’s exhibits offer hands-on experiences for children.
The Kruse House Museum – operated by the West Chicago Historical Society – is located in Kruse House, a 1917 Prairie-style home which displays the furniture and possessions of the Kruse family and other early settlers of the community who worked for the railroads. The Baker Homestead, an exceptional example of an 1840’s Creek Revival farmhouse, is currently undergoing restoration. Kline Creek Farm, located on the eastern edge of West Chicago, is a living history museum which demonstrates life on an 1890’s farm through the use of costumed interpreters.
The nearby Fermi Lab Arts Center and the College of DuPage Arts Center offer live productions of music, dance, art and theater. Pheasant Run features critically acclaimed dinner theater performances. The Cultural Arts Commission actively encourages and supports the arts in West Chicago. One of their projects is an annual art show held during Railroad Days.
The city and its residents are particularly proud of the new West Chicago Public Library which opened in 1993. The stately, 27,000 square foot brick building on Washington Street in downtown West Chicago houses a collection of over 75,000 books, 4,000+ audio item, 172 periodicals, and an extensive reference and business section. The state-of-the-art computerized catalog and indexing system provides patrons easy access not only to the library’s holdings, but to those of the other 147 libraries which are members of the DuPage Library System.