Frank Lloyd Wright’s Avery Coonley Playhouse


The Coonley Playhouse is definitely a significant building in Wright’s body of work. For being designed in 1912, it’s thoroughly modern, an assemblage of wall and roof slabs with bold, cantilevered roofs and rectangular openings that allow sunlight to play across the walls. It experiments with concepts that would later be used in many of Wright’s important Usonian houses. The interior space focuses on the central hearth, a signature in Wright’s houses. It was originally constructed as a small private school, but almost a century ago, in an early example of adaptive reuse, it was successfully converted to a comfortable single-family house. The current owners have meticulously restored, or when necessary recreated, the famous abstractions of balloons and confetti in the art glass windows that surround the central interior space.

www.wrightplayhouse.com

Interested in this property? Contact The Mike McCurry Group: (630) 325-2800

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Cranking the Music in our Streets


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier June 7, 2018

On June 15, 1965, Bob Dylan recorded his now famous song, “Like a Rolling Stone,” and on June 20, 1989, Nirvana released its first album, “Bleach.” These two events have nothing in common, except they correspond with the dates this June when we will kick off the two most important music events in Clarendon Hills: Daisy Days and Dancin’ in the Street.

Now that we are rolling into summer, there’s no doubt the calendar is beginning to fill up. One of the reasons we love our small-town environment is because of events like these that bring our community together. So, I’m writing to you as a reminder to plug into your Google or Apple calendars now, and make it a priority to come into the downtown to experience these summer concerts with each other.

Daisy Days is always held on Father’s Day weekend (June 15-16), with concerts on both Friday and Saturday evenings. Each of the bands this year will feature a folksy twist on top 40 hits. The bands Folk Yeah! on Friday and Fossil Fuel on Saturday will cover the range of popular artists, from Johnny Cash to Taylor Swift, and will be sure to have the crowd singing along.

Don’t forget to block off your calendar for Saturday’s full day of events that features the Dave DiNaso’s Traveling World Reptiles and Daisy Days Idol. The Clarendon Hills Chamber of Commerce hosts this annual event, so be sure to shop at some of the businesses in the downtown.

The famed Dancin’ in the Street concert series starts the following Wednesday night, June 20, at 6:30 p.m., and returns each Wednesday, through Aug. 1. As the originator of local town concerts, Clarendon Hills is celebrating its 16th year. And while it’s flattering that many other area towns try to emulate it, none can truly do “dancin’ in their streets” like we do!

About 1,000 people attend each week in the one-block area from the train to Park Ave. (anchored by Starbucks). Attendees bring their blankets, chairs and sometimes their dancing shoes, so they can enjoy these special summer evenings with family and friends.

The concert series committee has planned a nice mix of music genres with new and returning bands to our stage.

June 20: Underwater People, described as “a band of people-pleasing chameleons,” will play an upbeat selection of pop, rock and jazz.

June 27: Porky’s Groove Machine is described as “nerd funk.” With tight-playing, choreographed dance moves, they will be “ready to help you get on with your baddest self.”

July 11: Bopology delivers authentic swing and jazz with tight arrangements and foot-tapping dance steps.

July 18: The Millennials is a local band that includes three members from Hinsdale Central, and brings a fresh style to rock-n-roll classics.

July 25: Libido Funk Circus is a town favorite that entertains, plays pop, rock and disco, eliciting dance and just about everything that is fun.

Aug. 1: South of Disorder plays the music of Jimmy Buffett. Welcome all parakeets and parrot-heads! Concert-goers are encouraged to wear appropriate regalia to this themed night. I Want Candy will feature key-lime or pina colada candy, and The Daily Scoop will be serving kiwi strawberry sorbet. LandShark Lager, from Margaritaville Brewing Co., will be on tap for this fun and last night of the six-week series.

Look for more information coming soon about the scavenger hunt during this final concert, which will focus on the Richmond Education Gardens and Apiary. The gardens will host a tent with giveaways, an observational beehive and a balloon artist. The hunt will involve many of the merchants in town, and you can find the questions and clues about bees posted in their windows.

Crank up the music of Bob Dylan or Nirvana while you get focused on sending those e-vites and filling in the calendar, and let’s get together and do community like we do—in our small town.

 

Brama La Pizza!


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier August 3, 2017

Tess was a tough critic. Every week, she would ask her fiancée Angelo to make her a pizza. She longed for the perfect sauce and the right amount of spice, so she instructed him to add more oregano or salt, or whatever she thought was missing. Angelo wanted to please his soon-to-be-bride, and because he likes a challenge, he agreed to change the ingredients every time, until Tess’s was craving was satisfied.

I spoke with the new owner, 28-year-old Angelo Zayed, recently about his new venture, Brama La Pizza, and about his determination to create an environment where kids and families will make his restaurant the place to go.

Angelo told me that he’s laser-focused on capturing the young audience’s allegiance, because they are the future, and they will drive the engine of his business model. For $5, customers get a slice of pizza and a soda. Most parents that I know around town won’t let their children have unlimited sodas, but Brama does—and that will also keep them coming back for more.

I have to admit that I was a little shocked when I first heard that Brama La Pizza would not serve beer. It seemed as though the new owner had made a fatal error, similar to the previous restaurant—like painting the walls a hideous orange color. It would be hard to make a living just selling food without the high mark-up of alcohol, and somewhat unthinkable that adults would come in without the suds. But Angelo‘s positive attitude is contagious, and he believes that beer would change the dynamics of the crowd, and would lose the attention of his target audience. He is very believable, too, especially when you see tables full of kids, and some with the parents in tow.

The running joke around town was that “Medalla” was going to save The Hills Restaurant (or Mario’s). The former owners put Medalla signs in every window, but it became apparent that nothing was going to save it. But that was then.

Tess has good design taste too. Not only did she help Angelo perfect his pizza, she did a great job changing the decor. They left nothing to chance to look anything like its predecessor. The upbeat decor is hip, fresh and clean. And if there was such an award, it would win that of the most illuminated business in town. There are high tables and low tables, and did I say there is plenty of lighting?

Before I ever tasted the pizza, I told someone that if the pizza was as tight as the owner’s hair and beard, it had to be great. I couldn’t help but ask him where he got it cut.

Angelo employs about 18 people, 16 of which live here in Clarendon Hills. His philosophy is to have spot-on service, because he knows it’s about the experience for his customers. You can often see, along with the owner, an army of workers constantly cleaning everywhere, including the windows, front door and sidewalk. It’s refreshing to watch someone work so hard at making a good business for themselves and for us.

Before Brama La Pizza, the space had a few previous occupants—The Hills Café, Mario’s, Hills Café (without the the) and for about two days, it was called Lindeman’s; but that didn’t last long, because the owner received a cease-and-desist letter, apparently from the Lindeman’s chili family. Prior to restaurants, it was occupied by The Ceramic Attic, a pharmacy and The Bank of Clarendon Hills (which got robbed at one point). The old bank safe is in the basement, and is now used as a freezer.

And now a new chapter unfolds. Angelo not only started a new business in town, he made a power play and bought the building, leaving nothing to chance. There is no doubt this business is going to be around for a long time.

In October, Tess and Angelo will tie the knot and get married. I can almost imagine what it was like for the banquet hall chef interviewing for the job, and how many times they had to make their refinements. Being a tough critic, Tess always gets her craving satisfied.

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 26 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

Brama La Pizza

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Photos Courtesy of Brama La Pizza’s Facebook Page

Graduation


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, May 24, 2018

As the tassels move from right to left, we celebrate the closing of a chapter in a student’s life. Whether they’re going to high school, off to a college or into the workplace, they have achieved this status, and will forever be able to put on their resumes, graduate.

Thousands of students graduated from colleges around the country these past few weeks. Locally, Hinsdale South graduated 386 last night, and Hinsdale Central will graduate 721 students during its ceremony this evening. Two hundred forty-eight students from Hinsdale Middle School and 227 from Clarendon Hills Middle School will celebrate at a graduation ceremony hosted at Hinsdale Central on Monday, June 4.

The graduates have worked hard, and now they will celebrate. If you haven’t noticed, parties are going on everywhere. There will be lots of balloons and plenty of cake. These parties are not just for the families of the graduates—you deserve one too.

Everyone who paid a property tax bill lately has earned the right to some celebratory cake. At a recent trip to Jewel-Osco at Holmes Ave. and 55th Street, it appeared they were beefing up on supplies; balloons and cakes were everywhere. Sue’s Cakery in downtown Clarendon Hills has been baking up a storm, and is doing its best keeping up with the demand.

Besides cake, what is the appropriate gift to give a graduate close to your family? I’m sure plenty of insightful and personalized gifts come to mind, but unless it’s laced with some “greenery,” it may not be as well-received. Money is the number one gift choice for kids these days.

The last time I checked at Joelle’s Hallmark Shop, there were plenty of money cards for sale. But if you want to be creative (and receive a big smile), give them big bills—and make them work to get them. The Hallmark Web site demonstrates how a clear jar can be filled with bills wrapped in personalized messages tied up by a ribbon.—This will go over well.

I especially liked the idea of filling clear balloons with some U.S. currency—Hamiltons, Jacksons, Grants and Franklins. They will certainly enjoy popping their gifts to get to the prize.

All of the partying and gift-giving can be stressful too.

I recently spoke to John Adams, a Clarendon Hills resident, about managing this stress throughout the festivities. He and his wife Sherri raised their three children on Bonnie Lane (all of whom have graduated from Hinsdale Central). John told me, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t get caught up in the drama that happens during graduation.” He said that they decided during the last high-school graduation celebration to take a step back and just observe, and enjoyed the important moments. They didn’t worry about getting the perfect photos—they captured them in their minds.

Some parents are hoping this is the moment the graduate gets a celebratory push out of the nest. For Amy and I, we have an eighth-grader who will soon move that tassel from right to left, and then hold on for another four years before he flies that nest.

But I like how Dr. Seuss said it best:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents, or maybe a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.
Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 28 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

 

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A tree planted at Walker Elementary in memory of Michael Brindley, and honorary graduate. Michael passed in 2016.

And what a week it was – Those lounges were buzzing!


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, May 10, 2018

A refrigerator, a sink, some chairs and a table are few of the common elements that make up a school teacher’s lounge. A more elaborate space might have some added texture, like a couch, a throw-rug and maybe a large board on which to post announcements and calendar items. A lounge is a place to take a break, catch up with a colleague, or grab a refreshment to carry you through the rest of the day.

This week, those lounges are buzzing with laughter and all kinds of gifts that say “thank you”. This is Teacher Appreciation Week, in which parents in communities around the country – including in our school district – like to tell teachers they care and appreciate them for making a difference in children’s lives.

At Walker Elementary School each day this week, a special treat is carefully selected to show how much teachers are loved. Starting on Monday morning, the lounge was full of energy snacks to help faculty members power through the day. On Tuesday (National Teacher Appreciation Day), the students each brought flowers that made up beautiful bouquets for each teacher to take home. On Wednesday, they enjoyed starting their morning with a nutritious buffet style yogurt bar. At lunchtime today, the teachers and staff are being served a lovely meal prepared by parents. Tomorrow’s appreciation gift is fantastic, but a secret, so I won’t spoil it.

There is something inherently honest and genuine about teachers where parents feel catalyzed to do something to show their gratitude. Every child wants to be known and heard, and when they have a safe environment, they thrive. Teachers provide this for our children, and they recognize their strengths, while helping them to feel valued. A week of showering them with lunch, gifts, and flowers is just a small way to thank the people who have a tremendous influence on our children.

I recently spoke to Anne Kryger, the (soon-to-be-retiring) principal at Prospect Elementary School. I asked Anne what is it that makes her occupation so special. She told me that when a child’s eyes light up with amazement, because they learned something they didn’t think it was possible to learn, it is the reason to be a teacher. She loves to see that joy and spark in children’s eyes.

Anne became a teacher 33 years ago, because she was inspired by the dedication and passion her sixth-grade teacher showed for her children.

Having two children already go through Walker and two remaining, my wife and I have seen so many teachers with that passion. There are actually too many to mention, but one of them – and another soon-to-be-retiring – is my son’s fifth grade teacher, Mrs Vicki Marek. She has spent the last 10 years with rambunctious fifth graders, and probably deserves an award for that! It almost seems too easy to do an appreciation week.

We’ll have another opportunity before the end of the year to get those “lounges” buzzing with laughter and smiles. Before it’s time to break for summertime, let’s pool our resources, and let those gift cards pour in to say “thank you” for taking good care of our kiddos.

Thanks Teachers!

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents, or maybe a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.

Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 28 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

Anne Kryger, Principal at Prospect Elementary

 

Vicki Marek and Louise Perkowski – Walker Elementary teachers – Photo taken by Patch

Summer camps and the plastic coated mattress


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, April 26, 2018

 

Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of sleeping in cabins out in the middle of nowhere. Being a seasoned veteran of Indian guides and princesses camp-outs has allowed me to appreciate the many wonderful camps in our region. They each have their own unique setting and fun-filled outdoor activities for their campers, yet all of them have one thing in common—terrible beds.

Some camps are quite proud of their beautiful, rustic, log bunk beds, and others have the flimsy Ikea-like 2-foot by 4-foot bunks.—Don’t let the frames fool you into believing a good night sleep is ahead. The thin, broken-down, plastic-encased mattress is universal to all camps, and when supported by a knotty plywood board underneath, the human body almost becomes one with the wood below.—Your back will never be the same. There is one thing for certain: these beds weren’t designed for adults.

Camps are certainly made for kids, and as we approach the summer, many families around the suburbs are planning to drop their children off for a long week, or even two. The benefits are mutual; while the parents get to take a needed adult vacation, the children get to spend quality outdoor time doing fun kids-stuff.

A look at the activities guide at Camp Tecumseh in Brookston, Ind. (near Purdue University) show that there are many options for the camper to consider. Tecumseh, in my opinion, is the creme de la creme of camps, and has a wonderful, well-designed facility that is a favorite of many Clarendon Hills families. With more than 650 acres on the Tippecanoe River, campers could spend an entire summer exploring its trails and woods. Besides the typical water activities like fishing, swimming and canoeing at the river, lake and pools, there is an equestrian center and riding trails, a mini-farm with lots of animals, high and low ropes courses, zip lines, archery, riflery, climbing walls and a nature center. There are three high-speed, stomach-dropping slides, known as the bullet, arrow and black hole, the last of which travels underground until it pops the rider out at the end to see daylight. With all of these fun activities to do, why wouldn’t a kid want to go to camp?

This summer, my children are all attending camps through our church, Christ Church of Oak Brook. All the camps have a strong emphasis on Christian worship and fellowship, coupled with numerous fun outdoor activities.

My oldest son will finally be able to go with the high-school youth group to Roca y Aqua camp, a week in houseboats on Bull Shoals Lake, Ark. His days will be spent skiing, tubing, cliff-jumping and competing with the other boatmates.

My two middle children will spend a week at Camp Cow with the middle-school youth group, that takes them to Baraboo, Wisc. to climb rocks, play paintball, swim, kayak and spend a day at the Dells.

My youngest child will go on the “Rock ‘N Canoe” trip, also in Baraboo, where she will spend her week canoeing, playing outdoor games and rock-climbing.

Having my children go on these summer trips, especially with my church, is very meaningful to me, because I spent more than a decade attending every camp possible as a volunteer high-school youth leader. I’m excited to see them go away for a week to explore their faith, and to have an immense amount of fun.

This past weekend, my youngest son and I celebrated his last camp as an Indian guide at Camp Tecumseh. We had perfect weather, and a weekend filled with fun activities that we will never forget. The cabins were full of our friends from town. Each had their own bunk bed with that same thin, broken-down, plastic-encased mattress.—Those beds are not made for adults, and my back will never be the same.

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents, or maybe a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.

Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 28 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

 

Warmer days ahead


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, April 12, 2018

 

I would like to be the first to welcome you to spring – finally!

Spring officially started March 20th, but pay no attention the astronomical calendar, because we know that it has not really been springtime. For many, it was a long, cold and hard winter that seemed would never end. It began way back on November 10, when the thermometer plunged into the teens, and it has kept its cold pace – until this week. Well, the winter is finally over my friends, so let the heatwave celebration begin!

Today and tomorrow will most likely be the warmest days that we’ve experienced this last six months. The movie theaters will certainly be empty, and The Daily Scoop will undoubtedly be full.

What are you going to do with your days?

It might be the perfect moment to take a vacation day. Maybe hit the little white ball in the morning, and take the family to see an afternoon Cubs game?

You deserve it – it’s been a long winter, get out of the house and let’s celebrate!

The warmer weather is coming, and with it brings melatonin and happy thoughts about what’s going on around our town. So while you’re planning today, let’s look ahead at the warmer activities to come.

Here are a few around Clarendon Hills:

April 13th is the last day to register with the Clarendon Hills Park District for your early-bird pool passes to the Lions Pool.

On April 21, the park district will host an Earth Day event at Prospect Park Pavilion that includes face painting, sidewalk chalk art, games, and recycling old gym shoes and used crayons.

On May 10, the Clarendon Hills Historical Society will host a plant sale at Bronswood Cemetery in Oak Brook with 20% going towards the society.

May 17 marks the return of the Farmers Market in Downtown Clarendon Hills each Thursday. Organized by the Clarendon Hills Chamber of Commerce, the farmers’ market was first conducted last year.

Daisy Days will take place on June 15 and 16, with concerts are on Friday and Saturday nights, and numerous family events scheduled during the daytime. This event also features a number of carnival rides and attractions for children.

On June 17, the annual Daisy Dash Father’s Day 5K will proceed through town, followed by a kids’ fun run.

Dancin’ in the Streets starts June 20, and continues every Wednesday night in downtown Clarendon hills through August 8.

The park district will host a concert in the park at Prospect Park Pavilion on June 22.

On July 12, the park district will hold its annual ice cream social the Pavilion.

Two days later, on July 14, the park district will invite the community to participate in the fishing Derby at Prospect Park Ponds. The ponds will be freshly stocked with fish.

And on July 19, it will show a movie at Lions Park adjacent to the pool.

Old man winter raised its ugly head for the last time earlier this week, causing the Chicago Cubs to postpone their season home opener. Instead of curve-balls and fastballs, we saw the players throwing snowballs in the park at Wrigley Field.

There are plenty of warm activities for us to embrace, so grab a baseball or football, get outside and take a vacation day today and tomorrow.  

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents, or maybe a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.

Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 28 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

The Team – Mary Walsh, Mike McCurry, Phil Ducato – The Team taking a day off on Thursday for a Cubs game