|CLICK THE MAP FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW|
Map of Rogers Park and later the West Ridge communities showing Indian Boundary Road. Kenilworth Road is Touhy Avenue today. Interested in the 'LAKE' at Pratt and Kedzie? Click Here.
After the U.S. Government bought the land as far west as the Mississippi River from Emperor Napoleon of France in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, they still had to work out treaties with the Indian tribes who recognized neither the Americans nor the French made a claim to their territory.
The Indian tribes ceded land in a 20-mile-wide corridor all the way to the Mississippi River in the treaty of St. Louis in 1816. The rest of the land outside the boundaries (both north and south) was still owned by Indian tribes until the Chicago Treaty of 1833.
|Over the Fieldhouse Entrance.|
The 1816 Treaty of St. Louis - Like many diagonal streets that interrupt the grid patterned streets of Chicago, Rogers Avenue comes from a past far earlier than the surveyors who laid out Chicago’s streets. An ancient Indian trail, the passageway we now know as Rogers Avenue holds a special historic significance.
On August 24, 1816, the Treaty of St. Louis designated this particular trail to be a boundary dividing the land between the Indians and white settlers. Signed on behalf of the United States by Illinois’ first Governor, Ninian Edwards (1775-1833); Auguste Chouteau (1749-1829), and William Clark (1770-1838), of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and brother of the Revolutionary War hero Gen. George Rogers Clark, after whom Clark Street is named), the treaty was negotiated with the Council of Three Fires, the united tribes of Ojibwa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi. White settlers were permitted to settle south and east of the boundary line.
The line ran southwesterly to what is now Ottawa, Illinois. The boundary existed until the Treaty of Chicago in 1833, when Indian tribes were driven out of the area.
This treaty line exists now as Rogers Avenue, which runs from Eastlake Terrace to Ridge Boulevard, and then starts and stops a few times in the Chicago neighborhoods of Sauganash and Forest Glen. The same trail picks up again briefly as Forest Preserve Drive, just west of Narragansett Avenue and continues the path to Belmont Avenue between Highway 171 and River Road. Rogers Avenue is named in honor of the same man after whom the community of Rogers Park is named, Philip Rogers.
Although the boundary now exists in history, it has lent its name to a very familiar landmark in our community, Indian Boundary Park, which lies directly in the path of the trail. Further down the trail, at the end of Forest Preserve Drive, the history of the trail is further memorialized by the aptly named “Indian Boundary Golf Course.”
An historic plaque was installed at Clark Street and Rogers Avenue on the Northeast corner. Presently it is partially hidden by the housing of the traffic light controller for this busy intersection.
About Indian Boundary ParkThe plaque reads as follows - "Indian Boundary Lines - Clark Street honors George Rogers Clark whose brother William Clark with Ninian Edwards and Auguste Chouteau, in 1816, negotiated indian treaty ceding land including Chicago site from Rogers Avenue to Lake Calumet. Erected by Chicago’s Charter Jubilee, Authenticated by Chicago Historical Society, 1937."
The Park was created in 1915 by the Ridge Avenue Park District (RAPD) for a $3000 per acre purchase price. The Ridge Avenue Park District was the first of 19 neighborhood commissions established in 1896 to serve areas recently annexed by the City of Chicago.
|Indian Boundary Park 1916 Stone Marker: This 13.06-acre Park commemorates the treaty of 1816, which established the land boundaries of the Potawatomi Indians. Indian Boundary Area Council - 1979.|
Richard F. Gloede of Evanston, Illinois, the park landscape architect who created many North Shore estate landscapes. Two stone columns (still in place) on Lunt Avenue marked the entrance to a large, oval perennial garden designed by Mr. Gloede with many shrubs and meandering paths. One can imagine people in the 1920s strolling or sitting in the Park with friends on a Sunday afternoon visit.
The Park was unique because it had no straight lines crisscrossing it like most other city parks. The Park's eastern and northern lawns flow seamlessly into the front yards of the Park Gables, Park Castle, Park Manor, and Park Crest co-op apartment buildings. The original plan also included the lagoon and spray pool, still essential features of the Park.
Indian Boundary Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
Flying around Indian Boundary Park - 2016
The Indian Boundary Park ZooIn the mid-1920s, the Ridge Avenue Park District opened a small zoo in Indian Boundary Park at 2555 West Estes Avenue with the donation of a black bear given by the district president, Frank Kellogg. Although many parks had their own zoos then, the animals were eventually transferred to Lincoln Park Zoo.
The Indian Boundary Park Lagoon
The Park's lagoon, designed by Richard Gloede, is a 1.04-acre multi-habitat natural area with prairie plants at its north end; the Park's west end is the former site of a small prairie planting. The lagoon contains wetland vegetation, while grassland plants dominate the island in the middle of the lagoon.
Flying around the Lagoon at Indian Boundary Park - 2016
Indian Boundary Park Bird Sanctuary - 2010
The FieldhouseThe Fieldhouse incorporates Indian interior elements and is a Tudor revival "Arts and Crafts" style structure. It was designed by Clarence Hatzfeld, responsible for many of the Chicago Park District's distinctive public buildings, including the nearby Green Briar Park & Chippewa Parks. Built in 1929, the structure serves as one of the twelve Cultural Centers of the Chicago Park District. It offers classes for all ages in theater, dance, visual arts, music, and performances presented to the public.
The interior design motifs acknowledge the Indians who lived here before being driven to the West. The motifs include an Indian Chief keystone carved in relief over the entryway, chandeliers in the Banquet Room/Auditorium featuring parchment as drums with bows and arrows, and Indian Head carvings on the walls.
The centerpiece of the Fieldhouse is the multi-use Auditorium with the original 1929 lighting fixtures and sprung maple dance floor.
The Basement is another multi-use space but is primarily the province of the theater program. It multi-tasks as an ample rehearsal space, black box theater, and gathering space for teen programs.
The Ground floor Board Room and Solarium are where some visual arts classes occur because of the excellent natural lighting. In addition, smaller meetings take place there. The room is equipped with a piano for some music programs, and the ground floor front office, also equipped with a piano, is used for music instruction in a more private, one-on-one setting.
The Second floor has been devoted to the rapidly expanding stained glass and ceramics programs, complete with kilns for ceramics and glass fusing. In addition, the studio is set up with student workstations, each with easy access to storage and equipment.
In 2005 Indian Boundary Park fieldhouse was designated a Historical Landmark by the City of Chicago and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Robert Leathers Playground
The Fieldhouse Catches Fire
An extra-alarm blaze severely damaged the Park's landmark fieldhouse on May 20, 2012. A partial roof collapse sent three firefighters to the hospital, two firefighters were treated for heat-related injuries, and the third firefighter was slightly injured. All three were checked out and then released from the hospital.
Indian Boundary Fieldhouse Fire - May 20, 2012
The Fieldhouse Restoration
The entire restoration cost $1.5 million, but the tab was covered by the Chicago Park District's insurance policy, said park district spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner. The restoration included all new electrical, new interior finishes, new slate roof, new steel roof beams, new copper gutters, masonry repairs, and restoration of "destroyed" historic chandeliers and wall sconces, she said.
|Indian Boundary Park Fieldhouse (now named the Cultural Center) offers theater arts, painting, and dance lessons.|
The Indian Boundary Park fieldhouse reopened in January 2014.
The restoration of the burned-out Indian Boundary Park fieldhouse received two preservation awards;
- "Landmarks Illinois" was awarded the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for the restoration project.
- The recipient of the City of Chicago's Preservation Excellence Award.
|Chicago Park District opens Nature Play Area at Indian Boundary Park, August 7, 2014.|
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.
I used to love going to Indian Boundary as a kid to see the animals. It was closer then Lincoln Park Zoo. When my son was old enough to ride a bicycle, we'd ride up there together. There were only a few animals left in the late 80s but it was still fun. I never knew about the field house in all the years of my living in the area.ReplyDelete
An excellent, comprehensive survey of Indian Boundary Park, surely the cultural home of West Ridge. Thanks for the information.
Great read. Spent many wonderful hours and days there. My cub scout troop, skating and hockey on the pond, going to the zoo originally stocked with bears and lions/tiger, playing tennis, etc.ReplyDelete
Had many great aerobic workouts here; some led by Phil Martini who is mentioned in this article. Great memories of walking the park, sitting by the lagoon, seeing the old zoo and some Xmas caroling. My friend Tim Hurley also taught art classes there for a time.ReplyDelete
My Mother told me when she worked for the Park District one summer in the early to mid-1930's, she remembers coming to the Indian Boundry Fieldhouse for district meetings. Everyone was impressed with the park and the fieldhouse. She always thought it was the ideal park. She came to visit me many years later and was so surprised that the park was still there. THat's when she told me her story.ReplyDelete
Loved the zoo. I miss it. Thanks for all the info.ReplyDelete
So many memories of this place. When I was really young, my sister had ballet lessons (and on occasion performances) and got to see the field house a lot and remember they would go pretty far out with their holiday decorations. If my mother and I arrived early to pick my sister up, she would take me to the zoo and I would always found the llamas tend to stay in the back of the enclosure anytime I was there.ReplyDelete
I had summer day camp and I remember we would take field trips to Indian Boundary park every so often and climb on the keystone which we thought was like a tomb or sarcophagus or something. After school, I would meet up with friends and we would climb all over the massive wooden playground area for hours.
One winter, my friend and I hopped over the fence of the lagoon and tried breaking the ice with the rocks and sticks but were chased out by some of the park staff who saw what we were doing.
I returned to the park a few weeks ago for the first time in a long time to see the zoo was gone and the sprinkler area was completely changed from what it used to be which was a single pipe that sprayed out water from the top. A tornado hit the city this summer so a lot of the trees were uprooted. I would say half of the park was unrecognizable from the changes. Time really flies.
Grew up in the Lunt Ave apartments overlooking the park - the skating rink in winter was outside our living room window. Amazing memories there, from hanging out with friends in the pumpkin to being tempted to climb the fence into the lagoon, bike riding, all the classes in the field house (drama, first aid), Halloween costume contests, day camp. Best time and place to grow up in the 70s/early 80s!ReplyDelete
That was great thank you NeilReplyDelete
Fantastic, excellent, comprehensive writing and photographs on Indian Boundary Park Dr. Gale! I have been walking the grounds, enjoying the trees and pond and birds since 1979. I started taking my children there in 1982 and now my grandchildren enjoy it! It is my sanctuary in the city! Thank you!ReplyDelete
As always, Dr. Gale, a thoroughly researched and superbly written article. Bravo!ReplyDelete