|Newspaper Advertisement from Sept. 10, 1904|
It was operated by Henry James Kolze, who owned a two-story roadside Inn, Restaurant and Tavern on the site to serve visitors to nearby cemeteries and the Cook County Mental Hospital. The extension of streetcar service to the area in 1896 boosted traffic along Irving Park Boulevard and enhanced the commercial possibilities of the site.
Attendance at the park steadily increased during the 1910s and 1920s, leading Kolze to undertake additional expansion of the park.
|Grand Picnic Newspaper Advertisement from 1918.|
In 1950, the Chicago Park District acquired the property and announced plans to convert the picnic grove into a public park. In subsequent years, the park district demolished 19 of 20 buildings on the site, the only one left standing was the original clapboard tavern as the park's new field house until a new brick facility was erected in 1969. These structure were replaced with athletic fields, tennis courts, and a children’s playground. The new park became known as Merrimac Park.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.