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Park History

The park was created in 1915 by the Ridge Avenue Park District (RAPD) for a purchase price of $3000 per acre. 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.

The park was the 2nd and largest of four passive parks created for middle and upper class residents who were purchasing some of the "finest apartment buildings in Chicago under construction, besides houses and bungalows galore" per the Chicago Evening Post on July 11, 1925. Whereas other Chicago parks were created for healthy outdoor activities for "the poor immigrant communities", the passive parks were created for strolling through gardens and quiet activities such as bird-watching.

The park landscape architect was Richard F. Gloede of Evanston, Illinois, the creator of many North Shore estate landscapes. Two stone columns (still in place) on Lunt Avenue marked the entry to a large, oval perennial garden designed by Mr. Gloede with many shrubs and meandering paths, pictured above right. One can imagine people on the 1920's strolling or sitting in the park with friends on a Sunday afternoon visit. The park was unique in that it had no straight lines crisscrossing it like most of the other city parks. The park's eastern and northern lawns flow seamlessly into the front yards of the Park Castles (below, left) and Park Gables (below, right) co-op apartment buildings. The original plan also included the lagoon and spray pool still important features of the park.

In the mid-1920's, the RAPD opened a small zoo with the donation of a black bear given by the District President, Frank Kellogg. Although many parks had their own zoos at that time, the animals were eventually transferred to Lincoln Park Zoo. Only Indian Boundary Park still has the small zoo containing farm animals as permitted by the US Department of Agriculture. The zoo is maintained by the Zoological Society of the Lincoln Park Zoo.

 

The Robert Leathers Playground was built by the community in 1989. Funds were raised over a 3 year period and 1500 volunteers constructed the playground in 5 days.

Indian Boundary Park is named for the territorial boundary established by the Treaty of 1816 between the Pottawatomie Indians (Keepers of the Fire) and the US Government. Native Americans were not allowed to settle south of the boundary. The line, which ran through the land that is now the park, remained in effect only through 1833 when the Pottawatomie were forced entirely from the area in the face of white settlement. Eventually they were forced into exile walking their old trail line to their new destination of Council Bluffs in southwest Iowa. By the late 19th century, America's first inhabitants had been pushed from their original homes. With their numbers greatly diminished by war and disease and their independent spirits virtually broken, the tribes were compressed and contained by the US Government on generally poor western lands.

The Cultural Center/Fieldhouse

Our Cultural Center/Field House, a Tudor revival Arts and Crafts structure, was designed by Clarence Hatzfeld who was 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 offering classes for all ages in theater, dance, visual arts, and music, as well as performances presented to the public.
The fieldhouse was designated as a landmark by the City of Chicago in 2005.

The interior design motifs acknowledge the native Americans 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 feature parchment as drums with bows and arrows and Indian Head carvings on the walls.

The centerpiece of the Center is the multi-use Auditorium with the original 1929 lighting fixtures and sprung, maple dance floor. This room is used as a theater rehearsal and performance space, dance studio, lecture hall and music performance venue. Some of our music classes are conducted in the auditorium on the newly restored 1929 Mason Hamlin grand piano.

The Basement is another multi-use space but is primarily the province of the theater program. It multi-tasks as a large rehearsal space, black box theater, and gathering space for our teen programs.

The Ground floor Board Room and Solarium are where some of our visual arts classes take place because of their excellent natural light. Smaller community meetings take place here. The room is equipped with a piano for some of our music programs as well. (We also use the ground floor front office, also equipped with a piano, for music instruction in a more private setting.)

The Second floor has been devoted to our rapidly expanding stained glass and ceramics program complete with kilns for ceramics and glass fusing. The studio is set up with student work stations, each with easy access to storage and equipment.