Hickory Knolls center: Lots of room with a view
By Romi Herron For The Courier-News January 23, 2013 6:32PM
Hickory Knolls Discovery Center is set amidst community gardens, open space and acres of trees. Located at 3795 Campton Hills Road, the facility is part of the James O. Breen Community Park.The center recently hosted a wedding expo. | Romi Herron photos - For Sun-Times Media
Hickory Knolls Discovery Center
3795 Campton Hills Road, St. Charles
On the Web: stcnature.org
Updated: February 25, 2013 11:54AM
Nature, naturalization and restoration. Those are three things that are showcased at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center, says the facility’s event coordinator, Patricia Claypool.
Set against community gardens, open space and acres of trees, the St. Charles Park District property recently hosted a wedding expo to showcase what it’s all about. Located at 3795 Campton Hills Road, the facility is part of the James O. Breen Community Park.
“It’s not the typical four-wall meeting space,” said Claypool, who talked with prospective wedding clients at the Jan. 13 event that drew more than 30 guests and gave several area vendors an opportunity to promote their goods and services. “You’ve got the outdoors as indoors.”
With plenty of windows that promote natural lighting, Hickory Knolls also features an outdoor patio that guests can include in their event. Or, the view of nature can be emphasized to add an outdoor feel to the events even if they are hosted entirely indoors, she said.
“We have a fire pit, too,” Claypool said. “We aren’t cookie cutter. We want people to do what suits them.”
The goal is to provide a calm and relaxing environment, she said. It’s also family friendly. With live exhibits, snakes, a rabbit, turtle and fish, the lobby offers visitors a glimpse of what they might see in the actual Kane County naturescape.
Pam Otto, nature programs and interpretive services manager for Hickory Knolls, said rental clientele appreciate a venue where they can focus on nature.
“We can focus on the wonderful natural things that can be found here in Kane County as an interest of the rental clientele,” she said. “People who want to hold a memorial service, wedding, or party here find it a fabulous setting, surrounded by trees, native plants and our garden plots.”
Otto said recently a widow chose the space for her husband’s memorial service. The couple had recently returned to the area after living on the West Coast, and the natural setting reflected the couple’s appreciation for the area, she said.
Dozens of events — including business functions, bridal showers, baby showers, engagement parties and birthday parties — have been hosted at Hickory Knolls, Otto added.
“The nice thing about our rooms is the client is allowed to tailor the room,” she said. “We’ve also had a number of civic groups meet here, like the noon Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, and Community Unit School District 303.”
Scott Piner, president of the St. Charles Noon Rotary Club, has used the space for the club’s meetings and said Hickory Knolls is a unique meeting option. “It’s great. It’s a beautiful space,” he said. “There are lots of windows, so there is lots of natural light that comes in. And they have flexibility with a screen, audio/video equipment, and options to go outside on the patio.”
Otto also said the venue is a way for the park district to highlight its naturalist programs, in which some 6,000 students take part each year. “We do a lot of our field trips outside,” she said. “So our nature message transcends the building’s boundaries.”