The architectural ruins of Our Lady of the Prairies recall an earlier time when monks of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, called Trappists, lived in the quiet confines of the surrounding monastery. The monks pursued a life of prayer, work and contemplation, according to the Rule of St. Benedict.
For 86 years, from its establishment in 1892, the monastery thrived in this secluded location along the LaSalle River. The Trappists' move in 1978 to a new site was prompted by urban encroachment, an intrusion into their life of peaceful solitude.
Fire gutted the vacated church and residential wing in 1983.
Under the ARC Program, building remnants were stabilized, the grounds were landscaped and interpretive signs were installed along paths. The setting has been used for special events like the popular Shakespeare in the Ruins.