Historical society volunteer literally wrote the book on Hinsdale
What: “Hinsdale,” by author Sandra Bennett Williams
When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, March 3
Where: Immanuel Hall, at 302 Grant St., Hinsdale
Book sales ($21.99 each) benefit the Hinsdale Historical Society
Updated: April 1, 2013 6:31AM
HINSDALE — Hinsdale’s history, from before the town even existed to the 21st century, has been summarized in a 127-page book with nearly 200 photographs.
Longtime Hinsdale resident Sandra Williams is more than just the author. She did everything from writing, editing, selecting and scanning the photos, to sending the complete book in electronic form to Arcadia Publishing.
Arcadia has published more than 8,000 local history books with their signature sepia cover photographs, but none about Hinsdale.
“Arcadia had been asking the historical society to write one, but the time was never right until last year,” Williams said.
After 30 years of volunteering with the Hinsdale Historical Society, Williams had decided to leave, and a book about Hinsdale history offered a wonderful exit line.
Arcadia has a formula for its history books, dictating the exact number of pages, the number of words and other parameters.
Except for the one-page introduction to each chapter, every paragraph has to have a photograph illustrating the subject. If there is not a relevant photograph, the topic is skipped.
Having been archives chairman for 10 years, Williams knew every photo the society had. As she planned what to write about, she knew without looking whether she had the necessary photograph.
One of her favorite photos is of Hinsdale’s electrical plant built in 1896.
“It’s rather remarkable the village owned and operated its own power plant,” Williams said.
In the beginning, electricity was available only two hours in the morning and three in the evening, Williams writes. After a second generator was added in 1905, electricity was available 24 hours a day.
“It helped keep the village in the black even during difficult times, like the Depression,” she said.
In 1955, the village sold the plant to ComEd and five years later it was demolished.
Williams devotes a chapter to the beautiful homes in Hinsdale, with photos of each architectural style found in the village and of the houses designed by prominent architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright, E.E. Roberts and George W. Maher of the Prairie School.
Williams also covers how Salt creek got its name, Hinsdale’s connection to the Folies Bergere in Paris and notable residents, such as the serial killer H.H. Holmes’ widow, who taught in a local school.
Williams had seven months to write the book. When she held the finished volume in her hands, “I loved it,” she said. “I am so pleased. People will have easy access to a concise history of who built Hinsdale and why it’s the way it is.”