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Open sesame!

When do you hear that phrase? Why, when you’re standing in front of a door, of course! And that’s the time of year we find ourselves in. The seasonal door to spring is awaiting your command!

We open the door and walk in to the many events and happenings of a new season. Every spring, my outlook brightens as I look forward with excitement to coming events of man and nature: the blossoming of flowers throughout Pullman; the transformation of trees to a wildfire of green leaves; and the gathering of old friends who try to outdo each other with stories that begin with “Remember when …”

As far as winter is concerned, it’s a goner! The Pullman Civic Organization is back in action after a holiday hiatus sand the Pullman National Monument has been open for a few months now and welcoming visitors from both near and far.

This year, a somewhat restored Hotel Florence will have its first floor available for visitors. Money that had been budgeted years ago finally became available for use and has allowed for some very beautiful restoration work. Plastering and floor tiles have been restored in most of the first floor rooms, offering a glimpse of the splendor of the original hotel.

The PullmanArts Lofts are planning on a late spring or early summer groundbreaking with a construction completion date sometime in 2019. The building will have 38 live/work spaces for artists, with six units targeted for veterans and the disabled. The buildings will also offer amenities such as art studios, classrooms and gallery space benefitting the Pullman community at large.

There are a number of monthly meetings for which attendance wanes during the cold months. These meetings nonetheless soldier on with stalwart Pullman community members appearing. It is our hope that attendance will rise along with the temperatures, and that more Pullmanites will turn out to share their views on issues impacting the community.

Here is the May schedule: 5th District Court Advocacy Meeting, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., May 2; 5th District Police Station, 727 E. 111th St.; PCO Executive Board Meeting, 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., May 9, Historic Pullman Center, 614 E. 113th St.; 5th District CAPS Meeting (Beat 531), 7 to 8 p.m., May 15, Greenstone United Methodist Church, 11211 S. St. Lawrence Ave.; PCO General Membership Meeting, 7:30 to 9 p.m., May 16, Visitor Center, 11141 S. Cottage Grove Ave.; PCO Beman Committee Meeting, 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., May 23, Historic Pullman Center, 614 E. 113th St;. 9th Ward Community Meeting with Alderman Beale, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., May 29, Pullman Presbyterian Church, 550 E. 103rd St.

The Historic Pullman Visitors Center/Pullman National Monument Information Center is an adaptive reuse of the former American Legion which was built in 1953 and is on the original site of the Pullman Arcade building at 11141 S. Cottage Grove. The hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is no admission fee for any of the exhibits or the 15-minute film. A self-guided walking tour brochure is available for visitors.

One of the goals of Pullman preservation is to foster a sense 1880s Pullman as you stroll through the streets. There is a unique feeling one has in walking through the streets in Pullman on a sunny spring day. When the sun is shining through the trees as their covering of leaves is beginning, a feeling of enthusiasm burst forth. The preservation statutes are aimed at maintaining the original appearance of the street.

There are numerous annual events that take place in Pullman throughout the summer months beginning with the annual Pullman Garden Tour and Tea on the last Saturday in June. Coming to Pullman this month will allow you to get all the information you need to visit Pullman throughout the summer and to determine which events you would like to attend.

Among the newest sights is the Pullman Park four-store shopping center directly across from the District 5 Police station at 727 E. 111th St. The retail plaza was developed by Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives with three tenants thus far: Potbelly Sandwiches, Laine’s Bake Shop and Star Cleaners.

The Arcade Park just south of the Hotel Florence has been revised over the years and is closer to the original than it has ever been.

The Greenstone Church has been a cherished memory for many. Its beauty has been enhanced by the Rain Garden that was built last year on the northeast side of the church with community help and the assistance of the group Faith in Place. The garden guarantees improved filtration of water into the ground, allaying persistent flooding in the surrounding area.

If the church is open when you tour Pullman, feel free to visit the office and ask if you can take a look inside the church. Repairs to the Steere and Turner organ have recently been completed. The organ was built in 1882 by the distinguished firm as their Opus #170. It is one of the few manual tracker organs remaining in the United States. It is in its original position high up in the front of the church and is a physically demanding yet emotionally satisfying instrument for organists to play.

If you drive to Pullman, you should take note of the 111th Street Metra train station above the viaduct. Completely rebuilt last year, it resembles a railway car and is painted primarily in the Pullman green and red. The walls of the viaduct below have been adorned with murals that depict George Pullman and President Obama on the outer ends. The interior of the murals relate the stories of the town of Pullman and the famous Pullman porters. The official sponsor of the murals was none other than Sherwin Williams, which was a major employer of the Pullman, Roseland, and Kensington neighborhood.

A walking tour of Pullman isn’t complete without a car ride up 113th Street. This route will take you by the former Holy Rosary Irish Church and Palmer Park. A couple of blocks up and a left turn onto Prairie Avenue will take you straight to the much-loved St. Anthony Church. It is as beautiful as it was when it was dedicated in 1961. If you’re visiting Monday through Friday, you might want to run into Old Fashioned Donuts at 11248 S. Michigan Ave. It has a worldwide reputation thanks to the internet, and is a treat that many a Pullmanite can’t pass up.

Contact me at 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60628; 773-701-6756; or cjfranoi@yahoo.com; or visit Roseland Roundtable on Facebook.

About C.J. Martello

CJ Martello has returned to his roots as the author of “Petals from Roseland.” After five years of writing his column as a resident of Chicago's North Side, CJ put his money where his heart is and moved to Pullman, near the Roseland area in which he grew up. Having joined the Spaghetti-Os, Veneti nel Mondo and St. Anthony of Padua Parish and being one of the founders of the Roseland Roundtable Facebook page, CJ has become reacquainted with countless friends and acquaintances from his youth. CJ is looking forward to retirement and completing the books he has put on hold, including one that will encompass as much of Roseland's rich, beloved history as possible.