Dietrich and Lena Friedrichs

Does MPHS have photographs: Yes

Address in MP: 101 S. Maple Street

Birth Date:
Dietrich: August 8, 1881
Lena: May 23, 1885

Death Date:
Dietrich: July 15, 1955
Lena: July 6, 1964

Date: 1904

Children: Bessie (Dietrich) Barnes

Interesting information on life, career, accomplishments:

The Friedrichs were the original owners of the house in which the Mount Prospect Historical Society is now headquartered. The Friedrichs were both born in the United States but were both the children of German immigrant families. During the 19th century this area was largely made up of German immigrant farmers. These were often large families with many children to help on the farm. Dietrich and Lena Friedrichs were both from this tradition but decided to be different in a number of ways. First, although they were both from very large families, each having ten brothers and sisters, they decided to only have one child. Their only child was a named Bessie and she lived most of her life in their house.

Dietrich was also different from his family in that he did not support himself by farming. He worked as a house painter and decorator. This was an interesting occupation to choose considering that there were only twelve other houses in Mount Prospect. Arlington Heights and Des Plaines were more developed at that time and much of what is Mount Prospect today was simply unincorporated Cook County, Dietrich must have found work in these areas to support his business. The Friedrichs always painted their house white; in fact in the early twentieth century it was simply known as the “white house on the corner.”

The lives of the Friedrichs illustrate a number of larger trends. Their German immigrant background illustrates the history of the settlement of Mount Prospect and much of the upper Midwest. The large families that they were born into demonstrate the agricultural past of the area. Their choice to only have one child and work in a non-farm occupation shows the early twentieth century transition away from an immigrant agricultural community into the beginning of independent small communities. The Friedrichs and their home have a lot to tell Mount Prospect about it’s past.

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