Chicago Estonian House Riverwoods Illinois

Estonian House Inc. Chicago was founded in 1964. Fundraising commenced immediately in order to buy a “home” for the Estonian community. By 1967, a large plot of land with a private residence was identified in the suburb of Prairie view. The site was very overgrown, but this did not deter the founders who bought the property. Part of the purchase included 16-17 rattlesnakes, mostly small, but one which measured 2 meters in length. Volunteers cleared the land on weekends and during vacations. They were kept fed by kitchen crews that cooked every Saturday and Sunday. Very quickly organizations began sprouting up, such as the Estonian School, theater groups, summer camps for children and the elderly, choirs, an Estonian library, card-playing groups and of course the “heatujuring” – “good spirits” group (bar).

From early on, the original private residence was not large enough to accommodate the growing number of members and guests. To remedy this situation a building committee was formed to study proposals and raise funds for an addition (especially a banquet hall). Much discussion and analysis ensued with multiple proposals being considered by the membership. The winning design was by Estonian architect Jakob Viks whose proposed new structure merged the original building with a new mid-century modern style hall. Construction occurred between 1970 and 1972 mostly with our own volunteer workmen (and “perenaised” who kept the men fed).

The backbone of the Estonian House has been the groups of people who serve lunch almost every Sunday of the year. Special larger events over the years have included many local and visiting choirs, theater groups, musical ensembles and prominent guests from America and Estonia. Annual highlights have included the Mid-Summer Night Celebration (Jaanipäev/Võidupüha), Christmas (complete with childrens‘ presentations, Santa Claus and traditional Estonian food) and New Year’s Eve. The Estonian House has had 5 presidents since 1964: Peeter Elias, Oskar Kookla, Enno Toomsalu, Mehis Vahtra and Eero Pikat. Each of them have relied heavily on the members and volunteers that have made a comfortable and on-going home for the Estonian community in and around Chicago.

Activities at the Estonian House continue to evolve. We now have our own in-house dance band, a sauna and continue to maintain and renovate the house so that it is an appealing place to visit. Other ethnic groups have also begun to use the Estonian House for their activities, including Finns, Latvians and Norwegians. Community-based organization also use the Estonian House. We have hosted the “Theater in the Woods” for the village of Riverwoods, Boy Scout troops and are a popular rental space for weddings and corporate meetings.

 

Thank You to the Chicago Eesti House Founding Members:

AASA, MANIVALD JA HILDEGARD
AHMAN, EDUARD
ANDREAS, ILSE
ANIMÄGI, PEETER
ANVELT, JOHAN
ANVELT, LEIDA
ARAK, MARGOT
ARAK-YOKOO, SAIMA
AUKSI, ALLAN
AUKSI, GUNNAR
AUKSI, HANS
AUKSI, MAILA
AUKSI, TIINA
AUKSI, URVE
CHICAGO EESTI SEGAKOOR
CHICAGO ESTONIAN SOCIETY
CHICAGO PAULUSE KOGUDUS
CLAYTON, HELENE
DEVUONO, PETER JA JESSIE
EELMÄE, ELSA
ELIAS, AARNE
ELIAS, ESTER
ELIAS, JAAN
ELIAS, PEETER
ERTON, ALEKS
GOLDING, AIDE
GOLDING, HANS
HANSSON, ANTS
HANSSON, ERNST
HURT, MIHKEL
HURT, TAIVO
ILVES, HINDREK
ILVES, LINDA
INN, ELMAR
JAANSON, ERNST
JALAKAS, HANS
JOHANSON, KARL
JÜRIMA, ELFRIEDE
JÜRIMA, KAAREL
JÜRIMA, UDO
JÜRMAN, HERBERT
JÄRVE, JULIA
KALDALU, KALJU
KALGAN, PEETER
KANGRO, AIME
KASAK, ELIAS

 

KASAK, SELMA
KASESALU, LEOPOLD
KIIPSAAR, RICHARD
KIVIMÄGI, HELLA
KIVIMÄGI, RUDOLF
KIVIMÄGI-SHINE, KAARI
KOEPP, ALEKS
KOIK, JUTA
RÜÜTELMANN, LEMBIT
RÜÜTELMANN, MILVI
SAAR, GEORGE
SAAREPERA, JUHAN
SAARISTO, ROMAN JA ARMILDA
SEITAM, ARNOLD
SEITAM, ASTA
SUHHAN, GEORGE
SUIGUSSAAR, VELLO
SUIGUSSAAR, VLADIMIR
TALI, TIIU
TALISTU, ARNOLD
TAMMARK, OLAF JA MARGA
TIMAT, OSVALD
TOOMSALU, ENNO JA LAINE
KOOKLA, OSKAR
KORP! FRATERNITAS ESTICA
KOSEN, GEORGE
KRISTIAN, JOHANNES
KRUUSIMÄGI, UKU
KURG, GUNNAR
KURG, OSKAR
KURVITS, OTTO JA LEIDA
KUUSIK, GUSTAV
KUUSIK, LUISE
LAAS, MARTIN
LAINVEE, LEMBIT
LAMP, JOHN
LAOS, IVAR
LEIS, ROBERT
LEPIK, ANTS
LEPIK, ELFRIEDE
LEPS, ERICH
LINTS, REIN
LOND, ANTON
LOO, EDUARD
LUIDE, GUSTAV
LUIGA, ELISABETH

 

MAGUS, GUSTAV
MAGUS, RUDOLF
MARDIMÄE, VALTER
MEYER, HELBE
MINNESTE, VIKTOR
MUNA, ELFRIEDA
MURME, UDO
MÄÄR, ROMAN JA ARMILDA
NÕMMISTO, ENDEL
OTT, HINDREK
OTT, ILMAR
PAAS, AXEL JA EIRA
PAJU, OSKAR
PARIS, HELENE
PEEBUSTE, ARTHUR
PETROV, OLEG
PIKAT, OLAF JA ARLENNA
PIKAT, REIN
POHLA, HARRY
PÄHN, ELMAR
PÄRTEL, MART
RAJA, REIN
RANDRÜÜT, JOHANNES
RAUD, ARCHIBALD
REINARU, VALTER JA LAINE
REMMET, JUHO
ROO, ROLAND
RÜÜTELMANN, ERVIN JA LAINE
RÜÜTELMANN, KARIN
RÜÜTELMANN, LAINE-MALLE
TULTS, ENDEL
TULTS, ERNST
TULTS, LEA
VAAB, MIHKEL
VAHER, KAJA
VARDI, ALEKSANDER JA ALIDE
VARRAK, ERIKA
VENESAAR, KONSTANTIN
VIIAR, EVALD JA HELENE
VILLEMSON, JOHANNES
VÕHMA, AUGUST
VÕHMA, REGINA
VÕÕBUS, ARTHUR
VUHT, GEORGE

 

 

 

 

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