News - McHenry County

Richmond turns 150: Park renaming, grand opening for The District at Memorial Hall planned for celebration

Volunteers helped erect the new pavilion at Richmond's Nippersink Park, set for a rededication during the village's 150th anniversary on Sept. 17, 2022.

During Richmond’s 150th anniversary this weekend, Nippersink Park will be renamed and a renovated Memorial Hall will get its grand opening.

Those two events are connected by more than Richmond’s sesquicentennial anniversary plans, said Kristen Murphy, accountant for the village.

Funds from the sale of Memorial Hall were used to renovate the park, an idea she pitched to village trustees.

“There are a lot of families in the May subdivision with a lot of kids. I wanted them to be able to be able to walk to their park and have a great time,” she said

Memorial Hall was built in the early 1900s following a $10,000 donation from DeWitt McConnell, the grandson of Richmond’s first settler, for a community building, Murphy said.

When the village sold the building for $230,000, about half of those funds were used to update Nippersink Park. That is why the park will be renamed McConnell Park on Saturday, she said.

Now called The District at Memorial Hall, the building was redeveloped into an event space. It will host its own grand opening on Saturday.

The District at Memorial Hall, formerly the Richmond village hall, will have its grand opening on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, as part of the village's 150th anniversary.

When DeWitt McConnell left money to the village in his will, it stated it must be used “to erect a building that would be used for the purpose of village or city hall, a memorial hall” that churches and schools could use free of charge. The one caveat was “no immoral shows,” Murphy said.

Over the years, the building served as village hall, the community library and an event space.

But the building was in bad repair, she said. The village “couldn’t keep up with the upkeep.”

Nippersink Park had similar issues. There was just one toddler-centric playground, and other facilities had been taken down over the years and not replaced, Murphy said.

“We didn’t have anything, and we really wanted to refresh it,” she said.

That refresh includes an expanded playground, volleyball courts, a new pavilion, permanent bags games and a future kayak launch.

“We dumped a lot of love into this park,” Murphy said.

She is proud of the Village Board for deciding to use a portion of the sale funds towards parks, she said. As Richmond does not have a separate park district or parks department, those facilities are often low on the budget priorities.

Richmond also received a grant from GameTime Gives to make the new play area even larger.

“We want to take what we have, make it look nice and safe and listen to what people want to have in their community,” she said.

The park rededication is set for 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the park, 5200 Nippersink Drive.

The W.A. McConnell Foundation gala will raise money for its mission, preserving and protecting Richmond’s heritage and history.

The event is set for “Olde No. 90,” a building the foundation purchased, said Rachel Prickett, foundation co-treasurer. “We purchased the oldest building in Richmond last year ... to restore it as our headquarters, community space, and area museum,” Prickett said.

Tickets, which cost $50 a person, include heavy hors d’oeuvres, two drink tickets, live music by International Strings of Chicago, an exclusive Eugene Derdeyn art exhibit, a gift and silent auction.

For information, go to www.wamcconnellfoundation.org. Tickets can also be purchased at Richmond Village Hall, 5600 Hunter Drive, during business hours.

The District At Historic Memorial Hall will be having its official grand opening the weekend of the sesquicentennial with tours, drinks, food trucks and live music. The event will take place 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday.

Non-Richmond residents should come out over the weekend, Prickett added. “There are a variety of entertaining events found all throughout the charming backdrop of Richmond.”

For a complete listing of the weekend events, go to richmond-il.com or the village’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/richmondil.