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Latest OBHS News

Restoration efforts in progress at the Heritage Center...

What’s happening to the exterior of the Heritage Center? You may have noticed all the scaffolding, ladders, and crew over the past few months. The Village of Oak brook has hired the firm of US Building and Efficiency Solutions (“US-BES”) to repoint the exterior of the old Butler School  This is a firm that specializes in restoring and preserving historic landmarks.


One cannot help but notice the beautiful brick and gray mortar exterior. There are three string (bricks that run horizontally) courses made up of soldiers (vertical bricks with narrow edge exposed) that run the perimeter of the building. This brick detail and other features on this 100+ year old building is what gives the Heritage Center character and represents the history of Oak Brook. The old Butler School was built in 1921 as a two room schoolhouse on land donated by Frank O. Butler.  


You might be asking yourself why repointing needs to be done. Over time the mortar joints start to deteriorate, and water can seep into the interior of the building. Several years ago, the interior of the building was restored, and a museum was created for the community. Over the past six months water has seeped in and it has affected the historic interior on the first and second floors. 


Repointing (often referred to as tuckpointing) is a process where deteriorated mortar is removed from the joints of a masonry building and it is replaced with new mortar.  Properly done, repointing restores the visual and physical integrity of the masonry.


Finding the right recipe to replace crumbling joints in historic buildings can be the key to preserving them.  As with most technology, mortar composition has changed over time.  Often times repointing older buildings with the wrong mortar composition can cause the building blocks to absorb moisture and can cause structural as well as cosmetic damage.


Lime mortar is the material of choice for historic masonry buildings. Its mixture and formulation is flexible and breathable and can accommodate freeze cycles and prevent damage. It has the ability to wick water out of masonry buildings to protect brick and stone from water damage.


According to Frank Gonzales, architect, founder, and owner of US-BES, there are only two companies in Chicago that formulate lime mortar to use on historic brick buildings. One of them is Henry Frerk Sons who specializes in masonry restoration and repair. It is a company that dates to the 1880’s and has a large selection of historic lime mortars. They have created and provided US-BES with a mortar that matches the original color and appearance of the mortar that was used when the Butler School was built. The project will be completed by December 2023.


The Heritage Center, formerly Butler School, is an example of Georgian Revival architecture with Federal style details. It was listed on the National register for Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior in 2003. It is currently home to the Oak Brook Historical Society.

Mortars for Repointing Historic Masonry-1.jpg

Our annual training workshop with the International Masonry Institute (IMI) will take place next month and focus on mortars for repointing historic masonry. The free webinar will cover selecting an appropriate mortar, what to consider when specifying a mortar for repointing, material properties of non-hydraulic and hydraulic binders, aggregates, historically appropriate additives and more!



Thursday, February 15, 2024

8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

(Central Standard Time) NOTE: please log in 5 minutes prior for an 8:30 a.m. start. 



Virtual webinar via Zoom







Casey Weisdock

Technical Director with IMI & architectural conservator


Greg Maxwell

Architect at Harboe Architects


Eric Dexter

Vice President at Berglund Construction


Frank Grice

 Superintendent at Berglund Construction




Lisa Gensler painting.jpg

Lisa Gengler Remembered

Lisa Gengler, 86, an artist, philanthropist and humanitarian who used her
talents to help others, died on July 4, 2023, at her home in Rossmoor, Walnut
Creek, Calif.

In the late 1960s, Mrs. Gengler moved to Illinois, living in Oak Brook, Watseka and Chicago, and continued her work as an artist and philanthropist. She was a tireless supporter of the arts and helped to renovate an historic courthouse into a museum. She also painted and sculpted many dignitaries and lent her services to various art- and education-focused organizations. Ms. Gengler will be remembered for her kindness, generosity and passion for life. She was a talented artist and philanthropist who used her gifts to help others.

Oil painting acquired...

The oil painting of Mrs. Gengler at left was recently acquired by The Oak Brook Historical Society by way of a donation from Mayslake and the DuPage County Forest Preserve. Her portrait will now grace the Society's library inside the Oak Brook Heritage Center. Please visit us to see this painting  and other exhibits on display here in the Heritage Center. 

A very special thanks to our partners at

Oak Brook Magazine and writer

Larry Atseff for his terrific article

History Comes Alive featuring

The Oak Brook Historical Society.

View this issue here

Mr. Butler's obituary and photos are courtesy of the Oak Brook Polo Club

Oak Brook Polo Club logo.JPG

Michael Butler, famed producer of the musical Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, passed away peacefully November 7, 2022 in Los Angeles, CA.  He was born November 26, 1926 in Chicago, Illinois.
Butler is best known as the force who brought Hair from the Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theatre to Broadway in 1968, where it ran for 1,750 performances. Hair’s famous tribe brought drugs, anti-war politics, rock ‘n roll music and even the audience onto the stage for the first time.  At that time Hair changed everything: theater, Broadway, politics, film, music. By the 1970s, the show had played in more than 25 countries, in 14 languages, and had been seen by over 25 million people; today it is estimated that over a billion people have seen some version of the musical.
Butler’s involvement with theater included work on Lenny, The Golden Apple, West Side Story, The Trial of the Catonsville 9, and Reggae on Broadway. He was also the producer of the Hair film and You Are What You Eat.  Butler also founded with partners a number of discoteques including Talisman, Inferno, Ondine, Hippopotamus  and LeBison. 
His interest in athletics led him to an active participation in many sports including polo, tennis and yachting. He served in many positions including Whipper-In Oak Brook Hounds, Chairman U.S. Equestrian Trials Committee, Vice Commodore Talisman Corinthian Yacht Club, President SkiClub 10, Governor United States Polo Association, Chief Umpire of U.S., Chairman of the Oak Brook Polo Club, Chicago Polo Club, Captain Oak Brook Polo Team and the Warfield Polo Team.
Butler is the son and grandson of the founders of the Oak Brook Polo Club in Illinois established in 1922.  Butler managed the club for many years and with his sister Jorie, invited His Majesty King Charles III (then H.R.H. Prince Charles) to Oak Brook to play in 1986, at which time His Majesty served as captain of the British Team. Michael played polo all around the world, primarily in the US, UK, Jamaica and Mexico. He was a member of Guards Polo Club (UK), the All-Ireland Polo Club, National Steeplechase & Hunt, United States Polo Association and Hawaii Polo Club.
Butler was also a life member of Explorer’s Club, The Art Institute of Chicago, Oceanographic, National Geographic, the Knickerbocker, Racquet & Tennis, (NY) and the Bears.
His interest in his community and world affairs led him to fill civic roles in both local and national politics. He served as Special Advisor to Senator John F. Kennedy on the Middle East, and was appointed by Robert F. Kennedy to manage Governor Otto Kerner’s campaign for re-election as Governor of Illinois. He was the first Chancellor of the Lincoln Academy and was decorated as Laureate with the Order of Lincoln.
He was Commissioner of the Port of Chicago, President of the Organization of Economic Development in Illinois, P.A. to Governor Otto Kerner, President of the Illinois Sports Council, and a Democratic Candidate in Du Page County for the State Senate. He was on the Advisory Board of Global Youth Action Network. In the business world, Butler served as  V.P. of General Sales for the family’s Butler Paper Company. He worked with Butler Overseas, Overseas Bank Ltd., Basic Investment Corporation, Vision, Rand Hotel Corporation, Dugda I and Dugda II, Patherdi Coal Washeries, and on the reconstruction of Hejaz Railroad in the kingdom of Jordan.  He also participated in numerous real estate projects including work with Talisman Development, Sugarbush, Oak Brook Development Company, Old Oak Brook, and Oak Brook Hills Hotel and Golf Course.
Michael Butler was born in Chicago, Illinois to Paul Butler and Marjorie von Stresenreuter. 
His Anglo-Irish family first arrived in America in the early 1600s, and his first American born Butler ancestor, Lt. Wm. Butler, was born in 1653 in Massachusetts. In 1841, Michael’s great great uncle Oliver Morris Butler built a paper mill on the Fox River in Illinois which produced fine printing paper, the first such mill ever built west of Pittsburgh, and a Butler paper mill produced the first American made paper used in the U.S. Senate. In 1857, Oliver’s brother Julius Wales Butler became the agent and subsequently the owner of what became the J.W. Butler Paper Company, which also had warehouses on State Street in Chicago, IL. It was the oldest family owned business in Chicago. The family were at one time were the largest private landowners in Du Page County.
He is survived by his son Adam Butler, Adam’s wife Michelle, and his grandson Liam. He is also survived by his sister Jorie Butler Kent and her daughter Reute Butler as well as his half sister Wendy Dunaway and her two daughters Missy West and Jorie Waterman. In lieu of flowers the family would appreciate contributions to his favorite charity, Jorie and Reute’s Friends of Conservation, of which he is a founding director. 

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