Photo of the Week, 52: Feeding Time at Miller Park Zoo … Brought To You By Stern’s Furniture!
As a non-profit institution, the McLean County Museum of History relies to a considerable extent on the generosity of its members and the public at large, both by way of monetary support and the donation of historical objects. This undated photograph came to the Museum as part of a larger donation from Sybil Mervis of Danville, Illinois.
Sybil Mervis is the daughter of David and Gertrude Stern, and the sister of former Bloomington Mayor Judy Markowitz. The Stern Furniture Co. was a downtown Bloomington fixture for much of the twentieth century. Sam Stern, Sybil's uncle, enjoyed a special relationship with the local zoo.
“The Sterns were great supporters of Miller Park Zoo," Sybil told us in a note that came with the donation. “Sam would buy lions or tigers, as needed, from visiting circuses in the 1940s and donate them." Sybil later added to this story via email. “My memories are when a circus came to the west side of town Uncle Sam Stern would take us. He knew many circus folk," she related. “So, he'd take us with him to the circus and the sideshow and once when we left, he told us that we could name a lion that he had bought. So, we named it 'Duke', after our Dad, David Stern. I remember that there was another 'cat' at Miller Park Zoo named for our Aunt Sadie, Sam's sister. We have no idea how many he gave them. “