Oak Park, Harvey House and Chicago

Harvey - movie starring James Stewart
Harvey – movie starring James Stewart

A welcome, a real welcome is so important. At Harvey House I feel like a guest in a private home. In fact it is like staying with friends – only better because you don’t have to do the washing up or help with the laundry!

Harvey House is a beautifully maintained family house with polished wood floors and spacious rooms. It takes its name from the famous James Stewart film ‘Harvey’. The atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed. There is a covered porch with a swing seat – ideal for observing the neighbours! Beth Harvey the owner does a great job of making you feel right at home. The bedrooms are each individually decorated and so comfortable. Beth is also a great cook and breakfast is something really special. Everywhere I look – tiny little details have been carefully considered and little extras provided for the guests. There is a great selection of DVDs including of course ‘Harvey’ with James Stewart. On the landing there is a little ‘honour bar’ where you can help yourself to snacks. Downstairs there is a fabulous and spacious family kitchen and stone-floored living room. In the corner there is a grand piano. Books and family souvenirs line the walls. At breakfast time you can sit at the main dining room table or you can eat at a smaller table if you prefer a little privacy. There is delicious home-made granola, fresh fruit and a different hot dish each morning. In fact one morning I had an incredible tortilla, avocado, tomato and refried bean delight with poached eggs. Perfect! This really is a wonderful place to stay.

Outside the front door the community of Oak Park is at your finger tips. Restaurants, shops, cafes and bars – all just a few moments walk away. I’d strongly recommend ‘The Gem Restaurant and Bar’ run by Judith from England. She’s a brilliant hostess, the food is excellent and the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming. They even have music two nights a week. I went back twice!! On Tuesday they have a jazz duet performing. Wednesday it is classical guitar. The musicians are all local Oak Park guys.

For culture, history and architecture I head a few blocks north to the Frank Lloyd Wright House and Studio. The tours of the house are fascinating and well worth the visit. You can learn all about Mr Lloyd Wright – who was quite a character and his colourful private life. He lived and worked in the Chicago area for decades. He is probably the best known American architect of the 20th century. Don’t forget to visit the shop at the House and Studio too. Amazing gifts, really impressive – I left with at least $ 75– worth of stuff (all essential of course). Then round the corner is the house that Ernest Hemingway grew up in. I like to think of Hemingway as a kid chucking stones over the fence into the the Wright family garden!

The incredible thing about Oak Park is the feeling of community. There are numerous local businesses, run by local people. You can rent a bike and cycle through the district. Don’t forget to pause at a shop, cafe, bar or restaurant. You can really feel as if you belong here. If you fancy a trip into Chicago the train station is a few minutes walk.

Well done Oak Park I felt very welcome here – thank you. With special thanks to Beth and Noel – Harvey House. Judith at The Gem Restaurant & Bar and Marion St Cheese Market.

For more on Oak Park (just 10 miles from Chicago) or Frank Lloyd Wright go to:

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