The property located at the southeast corner of Oakton Street and Lorel Avenue, just west of downtown Skokie, was established as Skokie Park District land in 1999. At the suggestion of Skokie Heritage Museum manager Amanda Hanson-Putziger — and according to the district’s naming ordinance criteria — the district’s board of commissioners voted last night to name the park after Skokie’s first female physician, Dr. A. Louise Klehm.
Klehm, was born in 1870, daughter of one of Skokie’s founders, George Klehm. She attended the Illinois Common School in Niles Centre (now Skokie), graduating in 1886. She graduated from Chicago Baptist Hospital nursing school in 1896, becoming assistant head nurse there until 1898. She then served as an Army nurse in Florida and at Fort Sheridan in Illinois during the Spanish-American War (1898).
After the war, Klehm attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Chicago (later the University of Illinois College of Medicine), earning her medical degree in 1902. After graduation, Dr. Klehm did a three month internship at Hull House in Chicago under the direction of Dr. Rachelle Yarros, a significant figure in gynecological practices and an early advocate of birth control.
Dr. A. Louise Klehm set up her first office in the rear of her father’s store in Skokie in 1902. She later moved her offices to the Klehm homestead at 8212 Lincoln Avenue. Answering house calls in the middle of the night or in severe storms was a way of life for Klehm. She traveled by horse and buggy and sometimes on horseback, until she bought a Model T in 1912. Her fee for delivering a baby was fifteen dollars.
Dr. Klehm was a gallant, brave woman who devoted her life to the service of her fellow man. On her death bed in 1941, it is said that she destroyed her patient’s unpaid bills.
Her name is on a plaque in the lobby of Evanston’s St. Francis Hospital in tribute to her long period of service on their staff. Her life and work in Skokie will now also be remembered at Dr. A. Louise Klehm Park.
Click here for more information about Dr. Klehm.