History of

The Frankfort Area Historical Society

On February 19, 1972, the following persons met at the Nordsell home at 209 Center Road to discuss the forming of an historical society:

  • Jean Gerndt
  • Ralph Eisenbrandt
  • Judy Eisenbrandt
  • Marian Nordsell

The first FAHS newsletter was published in 1972.

The FAHS was incorporated April 12, 1973.

The original purpose:

“The society’s major function will be to discover and collect any material which may help to establish or illustrate the history of the area.  It will collect and preserve printed material, manuscript material and other museum material.  The society will disseminate historical information to the public.”

The FAHS published a Welcome to Historic Frankfort walking guide to historic buildings and in 1996 conducted a Historic Building Survey of the Village of Frankfort. 

The FAHS established a plaque program to acknowledge and briefly tell the story of historical buildings. 

Addresses included:

15 Ash, c.1877, Balchowsky & Sons, General Store

100 Kansas, c.1866, General Store and Post Office, owned and operated by Jacob Mueller

113 Kansas, c.1850, Drugstore, Post Office, Farm Implements, Hardware Store and Tavern

114 Kansas, c.1879, Citizen’s Bank, First Banking Establishment in Frankfort

122 Kansas, c.1855, Frankfort’s First Hotel and First Telephone Service

Frankfort History Museum

The Museum, once a livery stable, was bought by Johnson Folkers who came from Germany in 1849.

A 1910 fire destroyed the original building which was rebuilt identical to the first.  

In December 1980, Frankfort’s Village Board unanimously voted to allow the FAHS to occupy the former stable.

Frankfort Preservation Foundation History

The Foundation emerged as a fundraising partner to the Frankfort Area Historical Society after an initial grassroots campaign in 1994 to save the original Frankfort water tower from demolition.  A Water Tower Ball was held at Prestwick Country Club in October 1994 raised over $20,000 and spurred the “committee” to become an official organization.  In the summer of 1995, the Frankfort Preservation Foundation held its inaugural meeting with the blessing of the Frankfort Area Historical Society in order to pursue funding for causes related to preservation issues within Frankfort.

In May 2017 the Frankfort Area Historical Society and the Frankfort Preservation Foundation realigned under one common Board of Directors.

With the mission of:

Preserving Frankfort’s past for its future.

Frankfort Preservation Foundation recognizes community service.

Mayor Glenn WarningThe FPF recognized individuals who provided great leadership and community service to the VOF.  A bronze bust in front of the Chamber building on Kansas honors long-time Mayor Glenn Warning.  The Founders Center on Hickory displays a bronze bust of Frankfort’s longest-serving Mayor, George C. Sangmeister, and of his son, Congressman E. George Sangmeister.  Also located at the Founder’s Center are the bronze display honoring Magee Lindee and the Dan Hattan Pergola Garden, remembering the founder of the Frankfort Preservation Foundation.

A clock on White Street acknowledges the service of community activists

 and historic preservationists with plaques in memory of Paul and Vicki Lambrecht and of Judy Herder.

Current Museum Exhibit August – November 2021

Balchowsky’s Department Store

At the turn of the 20th century, Balchowsky’s department store was the main trading center of Eastern Will County, and one of the largest stores for miles around. Residents of Frankfort and surrounding areas could buy whatever they needed from the store, which carried thousands of items, and they rarely needed to travel to Joliet or Chicago for specialty goods.

Eddie Balchowsky

Eddie Balchowsky was a “colorful and accomplished” man—an artist, poet and one-armed pianist who was widely loved by those in Chicago’s bohemian scene.

Edward Ross Balchowsky was born in Frankfort in 1916 to Harry and Gertrude Balchowsky. He showed a particular aptitude for piano and had hopes of one day becoming a concert pianist.

In 1937, Balchowsky traveled to Spain, where he enlisted in the Spanish Republic’s Loyalist Army in their fight against the Nationalist faction.  There he lost an arm. His life’s journey continued through challenging times as he became an artist and a musician.  Eddie’s legacy as a free spirit, leftist, and champion of the marginalized is highlighted at the museum.

Photographs index

Frankfort Area Historical Society

Photograph of Citizen’s Bank building, constructed 1885

Frankfort History Museum

Photograph of museum

FAHS Awards

122 Kansas plaque

Frankfort Preservation

Water Tower

FPF recognizes community service

Glen Warning bronze bust


Current museum exhibit

Eddie Balchowsky wood carved bust