Village of Riverwoods

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A Brief History of Ryerson Woods

January/February 2016

By Irene Gagerman


Ryerson Woods forms the northwest border of Riverwoods with part of the Woods actually within the Village boundaries.

The history of Ryerson Woods is an interesting and remarkable story. From 1923-1927, families including the Prestons, Millards, Barnes and Fishers purchased land and some built cabins. In 1928, Edward and Nora Ryerson visited the Barnes’ family cabin on the river, and that same year the Ryersons bought land and built a weekend cabin. In the 1930s, other families and Ryerson friends purchased land and built cabins, and the Ryersons built Brushwood Farm.

"I bought the land from the grandson-in-law of the first permanent settler in Lake County...and I would like it to remain the way it was when the Indians lived there before he came in 1834."
—Edward L. Ryerson

In 1942, the Ryerson summer home at Brushwood was completed. In 1958, Edward Ryerson advocated for the establishment of the Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD). From 1966 to 1970, 12 families and the Ryersons donated/sold land and cabins to the LCFPD. After both Edward and Nora Ryerson passed away in 1971, the LCFPD began management of 550 acres, and a master plan for Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area was published. In 1995, 471 acres of Ryerson Woods was designated as a National Historic District and the land, cabins, farm building, the summer home called Brushwood were all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


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