At my Library Director’s request I researched and created an Eclipse Park Homes Neighborhood History display. This was set up so that Library staff and others using the (upstairs) board room would be able to see the display and the supporting literature, for a while.
The display board is a nice pictorial crazy quilt crash course that shows the history of our current Library location which we moved to seven years ago 2009. (I do love to create and sew quilts. This particular crazy quilt used pictures and words and double-sticky tape instead of cloth and thread.)
We moved 7 blocks from the previous downtown building on Grand Ave and Pleasant ST which had been the post office, ( converted into the Library in 1972), to the previous Beloit Mall J.C. Penny’s Department store which had been gutted and converted into our new Library building. I have been looking for historic information about our current 605 Eclipse BLVD, Beloit WI Library site the whole 7 years that we have been here.Our original Library building was an Andrew Carnegie grant built in 1903 on West Grand Ave.
The Display shows the histories of Eclipse Windmills (and why that is the name of the planned housing development for white FM employees) , the Fairbanks Morse company, the early 1900s“Garden City “ architectural concept for Factory-planned neighborhoods, Eclipse Park homes and their architects, the twin planned housing for African American FM employees – Fairbanks (Edgewater) Flats, the Fairbanks Morse Golf course and clubhouse, Eclipse Park, the Fairbanks Morse various “Fairies” sports teams and other employee benefits, Beloit Plaza/Mall/Eclipse Center, the Beloit Public Library, and the City of Beloit.
My Director gave me the assignment to “find out everything you can about the “Eclipse Park” Neighborhood”, and gave me a significant historic booklet from a 2020 Committee member that I did not have before. I had a short 2 ½ weeks to pull together all the information about Eclipse Park Homes Neighborhood History for a 2020 City planning commission meeting. They wanted a (visual) historic perspective to see possibilities for getting the neighborhood designated as a National Heritage site for improvements. I was able to dedicate time to pull all of the scattered pieces of information together, and discover new sources.
I am so happy to have this in place now for our Local History collection. More researching will continue, and the display will be tweaked. The display will have a semi-permanent location on top of the Genealogy Pamphlet file, and the research will be added to those files, starting in June.
We are working with the local Beloit Historic Society to lend historic items for a bigger public display later this year and to find any information to add to our knowledge about this neighborhood. I am hoping for oral histories, photographs, and memoirs of those who lived there.
This assignment was a real joy for me to do (excluding the speed factor) as I am very passionate about improving and adding to our Local History/Genealogy Collection in the Library. It’s great to get paid for what I love to do, and the nice email below from my Library Director shows that it helped the intended audience.
“Thanks to Vicki Hahn for putting together (on relatively short notice too!) an amazing display on the Eclipse Homes neighborhood (i.e., our nearest neighbors just north and east of us) for the “Beloit 2020 and Beyond” conference. Those who used the board room to discuss possible revitalization of that neighborhood found it incredibly helpful in terms of historical context. The display is now the beginning of a more significant project, between BPL and the Historical Society, to bring that area’s history to life. Stay tuned.
Thank you, Vicki, for your outstanding work!”