MISSION + HISTORY
Preserving natural habitats and creating opportunities to connect with nature in the Indiana Coastal Zone.
“Many people have contributed to the heritage of the Indiana Duneland. Some have been involved in historical events; some have recorded stories and images from the past; some have worked to preserve the Dune landscapes for the future. William and Flora Richardson, devotees of the Dunes . . . left a legacy of their own that includes all of these things.” James Newman, Ph.D. Former Chair of the History Department, Indiana University Northwest and Former Board Member
The Flora Richardson Foundation emerged out of William and Flora Richardson’s dedication to preserving the Indiana Dunes. After graduating from the University of Chicago in 1899, William Richardson became a preeminent industrial chemist, working at the Chicago-based meatpacker Swift & Company. In addition to his decades-long career, William established The Journal of Industrial Chemistry, lectured at the University of Chicago, and toured Europe to discuss cutting-edge scientific developments and patents. William married Flora Slack in 1901. Flora was a member of Women’s City Club, a popular women’s organization with an activist slant– indicating Flora’s interest in political issues such as women’s suffrage. In Dr. James Newman’s words, Flora was a “liberated woman.”
William and Flora enjoyed the outdoors and were early members of different Chicago nature clubs, namely the “Prairie Club” and “Friends of Our Native Landscape.” Enamored by the Indiana Dunes, the Richardsons built a small cottage in what is now the town of Dune Acres, where William cultivated his interests in botany and ornithology and Flora often hiked and explored.
Decades after William’s passing and driven by her love of the Dunes, in 1958, Flora established the Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary (now the Flora Richardson Foundation), aimed at preserving and making available to the public both William’s library and the 3.5 acres of land the couple owned in Dune Acres. In 2015, the Flora Richardson Foundation established “The Richardson Hidden Hundred Nature Preserve,” a large reserve in LaPorte County. By maintaining this reserve, the Flora Richardson Foundation continues to uphold William and Flora’s mission to study and preserve the flora and fauna of the Southern Lake Michigan region ( Source: “Pieces of Past and Present Dunes: The Legacy of William and Flora Richardson” by James Newman, Ph.D., 1995. Dr. Newman’s in-depth account can be found here. )
Flora and William Richardson accrued an extensive collection of books, photographs taken by William, and other memorabilia from their lives. Much of this collection (some books were donated to other libraries) as well as the organization's archives are now housed in the Westchester Township History Museum in Chesterton, Indiana and can be viewed by contacting the Museum’s Research Department.
Moreover, many of William's photographs are viewable in an electronic archive on this website, see Archival Photos.