Major renovation project will close Hidden Oaks Nature Center for most of 2024

Exterior of Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Bolingbrook
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Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Bolingbrook is gearing up for a major renovation, which will keep it closed for most of 2024.

Both interior and exterior renovations ahead for Hidden Oaks

A number of changes are ahead for the center, starting with a revamp of the building’s interior. Both the gift shop and reception areas will be expanded, and the children’s bathroom will be replaced with a program staging area. The existing classroom on the south will be converted into an exhibit gallery. And there will also be a fresh new space for public rentals, with updated lighting, cabinetry, paint, and the addition of a wet bar.

After those upgrades, new exhibits like a permanent live animal tank for the center’s turtles and an indoor birdwatching lookout deck will be added.

Refresh of an old favorite at the site

As for one old favorite at the center, it will remain, but with a refresh.

“But the beloved oak tree in the center of the lobby will remain and receive a much-needed overhaul,” said Angie Trobaugh, facility supervisor at Hidden Oaks in a news release. “Once the work is completed, the nature center’s theme will be to explore Hidden Oaks to uncover surprising stories of local animals, plants, and habitats. Both the construction and exhibit plans are robust and designed with all Will County residents in mind.”

There will also be some changes outside, including the addition of a new shade structure, and a new path that will run from the nature center to the nature playscape and the natural amphitheater.

Center will close to start work beginning Feb. 19

Hidden Oaks Nature Center will be closed starting Monday, Feb. 19 to get to work on all the new changes. The closure, Trobaugh said, will last most of the year.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but promise to be an asset to the community and a great place to visit upon our grand reopening,” Trobaugh said.

The renovations come after the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s purchase of the property from the Bolingbrook Park District in February 2022. The forest preserve hopes to get the center more in line with its typical type of exhibits and offerings.

“This is a long time coming and very strategic on our part,” Trobaugh said. “We completed a conceptual design plan for the exhibits in 2023 and now we are really excited to see the plan come to life for the community.”

During the work, Hidden Oaks Preserve may occasionally need to close as well for outdoor renovations. However the Hidden Lakes Trout Farm within the preserve will not be impacted.

The public can keep an eye on the progress of the work online through the forest preserve’s website and social media.

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