Thursday, December 28, 2017

Chateau De La Plaisance Amusement Park, Chicago, Illinois. (1907-1910)

In 1907 two Negro men, lawyer and businessman Beauregard Moseley and Robert R. Jackson a former postal worker turned publisher, opened the Chateau De La Plaisance (House of Pleasure) at 5318-26 South State Street in Chicago, Illinois. The Chateau was a part of the "Leland Giants Base Ball and Amusement Association."

Moseley and Jackson designed the Chateau "resort" to meet virtually every amusement need of the South Side community because Negros were not allowed in Riverview ParkWhite City Amusement Park or 
Sans Souci Amusement Park during this time period, unless they were workers. The Chateau De La Plaisance opened to Chicago's Afro-American public on November 2, 1907.




The Broad Ax Newspaper, November 16, 1907

THE CHATEAU DE LA PLAISANCE

Continues to meet with popular favor and craws large crowds.

At half past twelve o'clock last Saturday evening a chop suey supper
was given in honor of invited guests.

Beaurgard F. Moseley toastmaster - Major R.R. Jackson and others
delivered brilliant toasts at the conclusion of the repast.

"On Saturday evening, November 2, the Chateau De La Plaisance, 5318-26 State Street, under the management of the Leland Giants Base Ball and Amusement Association, threw its door open to the  public, and every afternoon and evening this new house of pleasure has been well patronized by the better element of the Afro-American population in the city.
In fact, the very best class of its citizens have been in evidence since its opening, and have manifested a willingness to give it their moral and financial support.
Last Saturday evening, so far the largest number of people were present, and the Chateau De La Plaisance was more than well filled with a jolly and good natured crowd of pleasure seekers, who spent most of their time in whirling around the skating rink mounted on the top of a first class pair of roller skates. 
At 12:30 o'clock the managers of the Leland Giants Base Ball and Amusement Association gave a chop suey supper in the American-Chinese restaurant, which is run in connection with the Chateau De La Plaisance, in honor of the specially invited guests. Col. Beauregard F. Moseley, the new 'captain of industry' among the Afro-American race in Chicago, served as toastmaster, and ladies and gentlemen licked their chops while feasting on chop suey and other Chinese eatables.
At the conclusion of the feasting, Dr. McKissack, in behalf of the judges to award the prizes to those selecting the best name for this new place of amusement, and the first prize, consisting of a $5.00 gold piece, was awarded to Mr. Adams, of Toledo, Ohio, who selected the name the Chateau De La Plaisance, from the French, which means 'house of pleasure' and as Jacob L. Parks and the other judges are high up French scholars, it was adopted as the most appropriate name, and the second prize was awarded to Mrs. William Emanuel.
Major Jackson was next called upon by the toastmaster to give a short review, and to set forth the aims and objects of the Leland Giants Base Ball and Amusement Association, which he did in the most glowing terms, and intimated that in the near future the Association expected to launch an enterprise in the neighborhood of 31st and State streets which would astonish the natives.
Some brilliant toasts were also delivered by Edward H. Wright, Doctor Bert Anderson, Frank Seay, David Manson, Lloyd Wheeler, Mr. Washington, who all declared that the Chateau De La Plaisance was the real thing, and it was just the place to spend a pleasant evening or afternoon.
The writer was also called on for a toast, as we had been called upon to pronounce the blessing at the beginning of the feast, which we had to decline, and in concluding our toast it was plainly intimated that as long as the Chateau De La Plaisance was conducted on a high moral plane, where saints and sinners both could pass an enjoyable evening it deserved the hearty support os all good citizens, and this same sentiment was expressed by the others called upon to express their views, and as first class order has been maintained on all occasions, and as the Leland Giants are popular and had a strong following among the better class of citizens during the past base ball season, there is no reason on earth why this new enterprise launched by its managers should not prove a grand success."
The Chateau branded itself as “The Only Amusement Park and Pavilion in the World Owned and Controlled by Negros,” and "The Only Summer Resort of it's Kind in the World" advertised regularly in the Chicago Broad Ax and the Chicago Defender newspapers.

Visitors to the Chateau De La Plaisance, which was easily accessible by the State Street streetcar, could enjoy a variety of "Open Air Attractions." Features included Big Musical Programs, a double-decked parisian gallery over looking a dance pavilion that accommodates fifty couples, a band-stand and stage with a solid up-right facade for moving pictures and illustrated songs. Band Concerts, Vocal Solos and the best meals procurable for the low admission price of 10¢. Everything from soda to venison was served.

"No discriminatios, no boisterous or bad mannered people... and those who wish to patronize an institution meritorious and worthily will make a mistake if they don't visit the Chateau at least one evening a week."

There was a Cafe, a Merry-Go-Round, mechanical swings that rotated in a circle and the finest roller rink in the west with a seperate rink for beginners.
A 1900s Merry-Go-Round time period example.
The Chateau advertised regularly in the Defender and the Brtoad Ax newspapers, noting visits by luminaries such as Mrs. Booker T. Washington and vaudeville legend Bert Williams.

In 1910 the Chateau De La Plaisance changed its name to the Chateau Gardens, still keeping the 10¢ admission price. They closed sometime in late 1910.

The Leland Giants were Chicago's first successful Negro baseball enterprise, playing games weekly at 79th and Wentworth.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

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