The Avenue in Oak Park changing name to Hemingway District

Business association hopes to connect with heritage, legacy


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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

Since Frank Lloyd Wright has his own district in Oak Park, it's only fitting Ernest Hemingway should too.

Now, with the blessing of Hemingway's family and the local foundation that carries his name, The Avenue Business Association has voted to change its name to The Hemingway District. The decision was announced Tuesday at the organization's annual meeting which was held at the Hemingway Museum in the Oak Park Arts Center on Oak Park Avenue.

Brandy Masoncup, co-owner of Geppetto's Toy Box and the former Avenue president, said taking the Hemingway name is part of a larger effort to connect the three business districts in the downtown area — Downtown Oak Park, The Avenue and The Pleasant District. Just last year The Pleasant District changed its name from South Marion to better connect to its historic roots near Pleasant Home and Mills Park. The goal is to create a stronger link to Oak Park's past.

"We have such a rich, cultural heritage in Oak Park, and we weren't really connecting to it," she said. "All three districts had connections to history in their backyard. Not a lot of people knew of our area as The Avenue. We are very, very fortunate to have a premiere organization (The Ernest Hemingway Foundation) in our district."

Masoncup said the change also expands the presence of Hemingway's legacy and helps reposition the business district in the community. The name change will bring new signage and banners, as seen in other districts across the village.

"I think this was sort of happening village-wide. We're recognizing that we have this history that people come to from all over the world to see. I think that's important," Masoncup said. "I think The Avenue, being in the heart of Oak Park, has a lot of rich history. … Those are things that should be celebrated."

She said before moving forward with the change, the association worked with the Hemingway Foundation to reach out to Patrick Hemingway, Ernest's only remaining son.

"To be respectful we wanted their blessing. We wanted them to understand we were honoring his legacy, not trying to manipulate it for commercial purposes."

John Berry, president of the foundation, said his group checked the legalities of using the name, the opinion of the family and the foundation before providing approval. All parties agreed the name change was a good fit.

"Since we basically have two cultural anchors in Oak Park, Frank Lloyd Wright and Hemingway, it's good for the foundation to have that additional exposure on Lake Street and Oak Park Avenue," Berry said. "I hope it brings more people to the museum. I just think it's a win-win."

Email: Twitter: @AnnaLothson

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Philip Greene from Wash dc  

Posted: February 18th, 2016 8:01 AM

It's not so much that he liked or disliked Oak Park, he'd just moved on. He resented his mother after his father's suicide in '28. He wrote this to his sister in 1919 after returning from Italy and World War I. "don't be afraid to taste all the other things in life that aren't here in Oak Park. This life is all right, but there is a whole big world out there both people who really feel things. They live and love and time with all their feelings. Taste everything, sis."

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 4:46 PM

And, Brian, I'm sure no one asked Verrazano if he wanted his name on the NYC Bridge. Hey, you do great things, people name stuff after you. The famous, living and dead, will just have to get used to it.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 4:33 PM

Dave: My point exactly. Who and why, and would the honoree approve or disapprove. Ask Edsel Ford if he wished his name was not used on an automobile.

Eilene McCullagh Heckman from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 4:16 PM

I prefer the Betty White district. Hemingway hated Oak Park... and would most likely not want his name used on anything having to do with Oak Park. It sounds like a new excuse to spend money on signage. Oak Park Avenue Shopping district is "The Avenue." Lake Street for many of us... is still "The Mall." Stop trying to brand small areas of Oak Park... and spend that money attracting new business.

Lake Forest Development  

Posted: February 1st, 2013 1:09 PM

What is the village's plan for the Lake & Forest parking garage if Sertus is unable to move forward with their project? Is the village financially prepared to replace the garage at its sole cost in the event Sertus's plans collapse?

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 7:22 PM

Who makes Percy Julian's decisions, Brian?


Posted: January 30th, 2013 7:20 PM



Posted: January 30th, 2013 6:10 PM

Who cares what they call it, no one will ever refer to it as the Hemmingway District.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: January 30th, 2013 1:29 PM

Dave, you are corrrect, it doesnt matter what Ernie thought of Oak Park. What matter is would he want his name associated with an Oak Park business district.? And who makes that decision for him? Again, what FDR wanted was over blown by people who made that decision for him. Would the district be better named for Dr. Percy Jullian,surgeon who saved lives? Thanxs for the challenge.


Posted: January 29th, 2013 12:01 PM

Call it whatever you want, people will still refer to it as "downtown oak park". Why fight that?

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 29th, 2013 8:47 AM

Doesn't matter what Hemingway thought of OP, Brian. He's a distinguished author, he came from here, let's celebrate that. Somehow, though I do enjoy Judy Tenuta ("Hello, Pigs!"), I can't quite put her on the same level with Hemingway.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: January 29th, 2013 8:36 AM

Lets take that small retail space that Walgreens left vacant at Madison and Oak Park Avenues and open the Judy Tanuta center for performing Accordion arts and storm door company.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: January 29th, 2013 8:19 AM

Dave, is is possible Ernie wanted nothing to do with OP? If so, should OP go out of the way to distinguish him? FDR wanted to be remembered with a stone the size of his desk in a certain park. He was also given a huge monument he didnt want.OP Rez: Maybe Ernie with his guns,hunting,and getting involved in distant wars was conservative.Heard Judy Tenuta, the female comic lived in OP,so did Darren Pang,the hockey goal tender. why not celebrate them.

Greg from River Forest  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 6:13 PM

To those wondering if he actually enjoyed Oak Park He did

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 5:43 PM

How about "Frank Lloyd Wright turns prohibited" at every intersection.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 2:15 PM

Sorry, make that Ernest. At least I know how to spell his last name.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 2:14 PM

MichaelO, Gertrude Stein once said to our boy, "Earnest, you are so...ROTARIAN."

MichaelO from Oak Park  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 2:06 PM

The real question should be, did Hemingway like retail.


Posted: January 28th, 2013 1:51 PM

Matt, it speaks better of Hemingway for "hating" Oak Park during his time, being the Republican strong hold it was. So what if Oak Park celebrates his life by using his fame? It draws people to Oak Park, helps the community, and visitors enjoy visiting the home and museum. It's win, win all around. This happens all over the world... I swear some people just want to moan for the sake of moaning.

MichaelO from Oak Park  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 1:46 PM

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." ?" Ernest Hemingway That covers Paris.

OP Rez  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 1:43 PM

Brian, Since he disliked growing up here due to it being "conservative" during his time, I'm willing to bet that he'd like it a whole lot more the way it is today. So I'm not surprised if you can't find a quote by him about liking growing up here... I probably wouldn't have liked to grow up here if I was the same generation as Hemingway, but these are different times. Whether he liked it or not does not weigh on the legitimacy of the Oak Park/Hemingway connection.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 1:35 PM

Did Hemingway ever return? Not to my knowledge. He preferred Paris, I guess, and it's hard to blame him for that, though if we can't find a certifiable quote that he liked the City of Light then maybe he hated that town, too, right Brian (smile)?

Brian Slowiak from 708 524 0264  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 12:42 PM

I would like to see one documented comment that Hemingway enjoyed growing up in Oak Park. Did the world traveler ever come back to Oak Park?


Posted: January 28th, 2013 12:30 PM

This all might be "Ludicris"! Records show he attended Emerson and OPRF.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 12:16 PM

I'd like to see one documented comment by Hemingway that revealed an attitude about Oak Park. And don't hit me with the "broad lawns/narrow minds" alleged quote unless you have a primary source for it. That said, I don't think we give nearly enough recognition to Edgar Rice Burroughs -- perhaps a bench in the park by the library? Also, why don't restaurants name dishes after these local celebs a la Carnegie Deli? Edgar Rice Burger, for instance, or Paul Harvey Corned Beef Hash.

Exploit our fame!  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 11:50 AM

The Dan Castellaneta, Paul Harvey, and Peter Sagal Brickway? A series of John Mahoney-themed Frasier's Dad chairs placed on various street corners throughout the Village?

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 11:38 AM

Let's keep it going - the planters around the village hall could be "The Ray Kroc-ery"

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 11:35 AM

I vote to make the sidewalk under the Lake Theater marquee "The Great betty White Way"

Betty White!  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 11:24 AM

Yes! I hearby nominate renaming Downtown Oak Park to "The Betty White District." Or maybe she and Edgar Rice Burroughs could share? But then Kathy Griffin will want her due.

Matt on Madison  

Posted: January 28th, 2013 10:48 AM

The guy hated Oak Park and said so every chance he got. Makes perfect sense to cash in on him since hes dead. Stupid Stupid Oak Park.


Posted: January 28th, 2013 10:14 AM

I am still waiting for Betty White's OP connection to be plumbed to its very depths.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park  

Posted: January 27th, 2013 9:15 PM

There are stories about how low a regard he held for OPRF teachers.


Posted: January 27th, 2013 8:50 PM

I heard Hemmingway hated Oak Park

gg from Only a fool would believe ...  

Posted: January 27th, 2013 11:21 AM

"To be respectful we wanted their blessing. We wanted them to understand we were honoring his legacy, but not trying to manipulate it for commercial purposes." And my nose is not growing


Posted: January 26th, 2013 9:29 AM

Was Hemingway even fond of Oak Park?

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