The Downers Grove Historical Society continues to write its own history as it transitions from one president to another, with Amy Gassen being named the next president of the organization.
The historical society focuses on sharing the rich history of Downers Grove and has contributed to the community with events such as the Historic Homes program. It is a nonprofit, volunteer organization, and Gassen, previously vice president, has been part of the group’s board since 2015.
Gassen is the successor to Liz Chalberg, who served as president of the society for five years and hopes to continue volunteering whenever possible. During her time, Chalberg helped the organization’s membership grow, and she said she is confident Gassen will continue to bring new energy to the society.
“We’ve done a lot in the past five years with [Chalberg] as president, and what she accomplished is impressive,” Gassen said. “I want to continue that momentum and get young people interested in our history.”
Chalberg said she believes Gassen is the perfect person to expand the audience of the historical society because Gassen herself is a young mother. History often attracts older audiences, Chalberg said, but by moving advertising for events online, she was able to expand the group and believes Gassen will continue to reach an even bigger audience.
Gassen has lived in Downers Grove for 14 years, having moved to the community because it is where her husband was born and raised. Being an architect, Gassen was drawn to the vibrant architectural history displayed throughout the community – an interest that eventually led her to the historical society.
“[Gassen’s] background of architecture really qualifies her for this, and she has a very thoughtful, calming approach to getting a lot of things done,” Chalberg said. “We all have a really great deal of respect for her, and she brings a youthful approach to history.”
Chalberg said she believes the society’s board has a lot of creativity as it stands, and that Gassen will be able to tap into that and motivate people even more. She said she believes the group will only continue to become more interesting and more engaging, and that she is excited for the organization’s future under Gassen’s leadership.
Gassen hopes to educate and excite a younger audience by gearing events toward families and children and teaching local history as often as possible. She is in the early stages of her presidency with the historical society but said she believes that with the growth Chalberg brought to the organization, Gassen can get more information out to the community.
“I didn’t anticipate becoming so involved in the community when I was looking at houses to buy, but here I am following my passion,” Gassen said. “Knowing your history makes people proud of where they’re from … and we want more people to know it’s important.”