The passing of a piece of history

Fermilab Director Pier Oddone accepts on behalf of the laboratory a painting of the Big Woods Church from Karyl Louwenaar, a former laboratory intern. The painting and its subject have historical ties to the laboratory. Credit: Rhianna Wisniewski.

On a chilly day in April, Fermilab Director Pier Oddone received a link to Fermilab’s past. Karyl Louwenaar, a former intern in the laboratory’s Public Information Office in 1969, had returned to the laboratory to pass along a historical painting.

The painting, which depicts the Big Woods Church, was given to Louwenaar in 1969 by Ivan Alten, a designer with DUSAF, one of four architectural-engineering firms that worked together on the laboratory’s construction from 1967 until the early 1970s.

While the Big Woods Church, which is located on Eola Road south of the laboratory, has never been on the laboratory site the church does hold historical significance to the people who once lived on the land that is now Fermilab. Louwenaar was working on recording the history of the land’s former occupants during her internship in 1969.

Fermilab Chief Operations Officer Bruce Chrisman gave the painting to members of the church at the 14th annual Farmer’s Picnic on Saturday, May 7, a fitting venue. The annual potluck-style celebration usually attracts about 100 guests, most of whose family farms used to occupy the Fermilab site. Approximately 140 people attended the picnic this year, including several first-time attendees who received tours of the former homesteads from Roads and Grounds’ Bob Lootens.

Bruce Chrisman, Fermilab COO, presents a painting of the Big Woods Church to church member Sonya Cunningham at the annual Farmer’s Picnic on May 7. Credit: Jean Reising.

Rhianna Wisniewski