Thursday, December 28, 2017

Château de la Plaisance Amusement Park, Chicago, Illinois. (1907-1910)

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When I write about the INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, I follow this historical terminology:
  • The use of old commonly used terms, disrespectful today, i.e., REDMAN or REDMEN, SAVAGES, and HALF-BREED are explained in this article.
Writing about AFRICAN-AMERICAN history, I follow these race terms:
  • "NEGRO" was the term used until the mid-1960s.
  • "BLACK" started being used in the mid-1960s.
  • "AFRICAN-AMERICAN" [Afro-American] began usage in the late 1980s.


In 1907 two Negro men, lawyer and businessman Beauregard Fitzhugh Moseley and Robert R. Jackson, a former postal worker turned publisher, opened the Château 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.The Leland Giants were Chicago's first successful Negro baseball enterprise, playing games weekly at 79th and Wentworth.

Moseley and Jackson designed the Château "resort" to meet virtually every amusement need of the South Side community because Negroes were not allowed in Riverview ParkWhite City Amusement Park or 
Sans Souci Amusement Park unless they were workers. The Château de la Plaisance opened to Chicago's black population on November 2, 1907.

The Broad Ax Newspaper, November 16, 1907


Continues to meet with popular favorites and draws large crowds.

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

Beauregard 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 black 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 negroes 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 Château branded itself "The Only Amusement Park and Pavilion in the World Owned and Controlled by Negroes," and "The Only Summer Resort of its Kind in the World," advertised regularly in the Chicago Defender newspaper.

Visitors to the Château 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 overlooking a dance pavilion accommodating fifty couples, a band-stand and a stage with a solid up-right facade for moving pictures and illustrated songs. Band Concerts, Vocal Solos and the best meals are procurable for the low admission price of 10¢. Everything from soda to venison was served.

"No discrimination, 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 separate rink for beginners.
A time period example of a 1900s Merry-Go-Round that the Chateau would have.
The Château regularly advertised in the Broad Ax newspaper, noting visits by luminaries such as Mrs. Booker T. Washington and vaudeville legend Bert Williams.

In 1910, the Château de la Plaisance changed its name to the Château Gardens, keeping the 10¢ admission price. They closed in the autumn of 1910 once the weather turned. It's unknown why the Château didn't open in 1911.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know why, but I still find myself appalled that the sheer lunacy of keeping people out of specific places because of the color of their skin. It just seems bananas. Thanks for sharing, Neil!


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