Try This! Celebrate 85 Years of Nature Education at Trailside Museum of Natural History

Join the Forest Preserves of Cook County at Trailside Museum of Natural History on Sunday, June 11, to celebrate 85 years of nature education and programming at the museum.


Attendees can enjoy an ice cream social, join in a bluegrass jam, participate in family-friendly historical activities, meet some of Trailside’s animals, view local history displays, make an animal craft and more.


Trailside Museum’s 85th Anniversary

Sunday, June 11 • 12 – 3 pm

Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave, River Forest


A Brief History of Trailside Museum


Did you know that Trailside Museum is housed in a historic 1876 mansion, and is one of the oldest buildings in suburban River Forest?  The building was originally built by the Abraham Hoffman family to be used both their home and as a place for the several private schools they ran. “The River Forest Young Ladies Institute” was a private girl’s high school, and “The River Forest Institute” was a boarding school for “lads under 13.” The school closed in 1902. The building was subsequently sold and used as a private residence until 1919 when it was purchased by the Forest Preserves of Cook County.


The building served as the first headquarters of the Forest Preserves until 1931, when the headquarters were moved to its current location at Cummings Square. In late 1931, the Forest Preserve Board of Commissioners voted to transform the building into a “trailside museum,” modeling it on the educational trailside museums and zoos (i.e. nature centers) that were being established in state and national parks.


Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County