The Park Ridge Park District is pleased to announce that the Wildwood Nature Center has been awarded a $750,000 Illinois Public Museum Capital Grant to renovate the property at 531 Forestview that the District acquired at the end of 2020. The property is located adjacent to the Wildwood Nature Center at Maine Park, and will be renovated to function as a visitors’ center for the Wildwood Nature Center.
Wildwood Nature Center’s live animal exhibits, collections, and artifacts will be relocated to this building, as well as the interactive Nature Nook playroom. An accessible restroom, office space for staff, asbestos abatement, HVAC upgrades, and roof replacement are also included in the indoor renovation plans. The wooded backyard will extend the current Woodland Walk at the Wildwood Nature Center and provide an outdoor nature play space free for the public use.
Relocating the current animal exhibit room and the Nature Nook playroom to the 531 Forestview property will allow staff the ability to add two additional designated program spaces at the current Wildwood Nature Center building.
Executive Director Gayle Mountcastle stated, “We are very excited about this project. The renovation of the house allows the District to expand our very popular Wildwood program offerings, while still preserving the wonderful details of the current architecture of the building.”
FGM Architects has provided a budget estimate of $889,000 for the project. The maximum grant awarded for projects is $750,000, and the District will provide the additional required matching funds from their Capital Projects Fund.
The Wildwood Nature Center presents year-round programming for children ages 12 months through adult that not only educates participants but also provides hands-on learning opportunities to explore the natural world. Additionally, the Nature Center offers a variety of nature-based camps during the summer, nature preschool, off-site trips, and outreach opportunities.
The renovation is anticipated to begin in fall of 2022. Check back for updates!