A Linger of a Soul

By Jamison Harold Terbrack

Polish Museum of America

It is said by some that on the West Side of Chicago, on Milwaukee Avenue, there is a building haunted by the ghost of a past famous pianist.

The cleaning lady at The Polish Museum of America said that at night, she has heard the piano play by itself as well as the typewriter type on its own.

“Different people have claimed there is a ghost here, I have not heard it, but a few people have,” Adam Aksnowicz

The Polish community has left the neighborhood, but the spirit of Paderewski is still lurking. While people may have a different address now, their soul resides in the neighborhood.

What was once a prominent city run by Poles is now a quite diverse area.

Established in the year of 1935, after a fire wiped out a Polish library, The Polish Museum of America still stands tall today 80 years later.

This crown jewel of the Polish community stands in a close proximity to another focal point of visitors, the Polish Triangle.

The Polish Triangle is in the neighborhood Wicker Park, where Divison street, Milwaukee, and Ashland avenues all meet.

It is one of the oldest ethnic museums in the United States as well as the old standing museum of its type.

Aksnowicz, 22, who lives in Arlington Heights, has worked as a docent and collection care assistant for a year now.

“We want to also be a Chicago landmark rather than just a Polish one,” Aksnowicz said.

This does not come as a surprise, as the museum is trying to gather money to help with repairs, but the majority of the community around Chicago has not given enough for resources yet.

A few eye-grabbing artifacts around the museum come from the 1939 World Fair. This was the first time the Poles got to participate in the spectacle.

The building was used as a recruiting center for Poles to join the army in its earlier days, and there are pictures around the building, which show off these times.

Possibly the most noteworthy thing about the museum is that in there is a room dedicated to Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the famous Polish pianist, as well as former Prime Minister to Poland

The room has a vast span of artifacts relating to Paderewski. Among these are the bed he died in, his person piano, and many other exceptional pieces.

Julita Siegel, 39, of Elk Grove Village, is the photography collection curator.

“The museum was lucky that the Paderewski collection was donated to the museum by his sister after his death,” said Siegel.

“The closest relatable person to Paderewski is the American Elvis, he was that big so its amazing that we have his belongings here,” Aksnowicz said.

Chinatown

Pilsen

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