Chicago: Lincoln Park / Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool – by Landscape architect Alfred Caldwell

Year Built: 1936-1938

Location: North of Lincoln Park Zoo and Conservatory.

Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: November 6, 2002.

The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool is a serene and beautiful “hidden gem” next to the Lincoln Park Zoo and Conservatory. It was first landscaped in 1889 and designated as a place in which to cultivate tropical water lilies. In the 1930’s, it was re-designed by landscape architect Alfred Caldwell. It’s made in the tradition of the Prairie School, influenced by such greats as Frank Lloyd Wright and Caldwell’s teacher, Jens Jensen.

The main features of the Lily Pool are the gateway, the pavilion, the curving walkways, the limestone paths, and the circular benches that Jensen referred to as “the council ring,” a cascading waterfall and the native plants and trees. These features, arranged around a lily pool, creates the look of a creek running through a Midwest prairie. In 1942, Caldwell called the pool “a hidden garden for the people of Megalopolis.”

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

 

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool
has been designated a National Historic Landmark

This site is a premier example of the Prairie Style of landscape architecture. Alfred Caldwell, a landscape designer, architect, teacher and poet, transformed an old Victorian Lily Pool in Lincoln Park into a “Sanctuary of Native Landscape”. Funded by the Works Progress Administration and completed in 1938. It possesses national significance in commemorating the cultural history of the United States.

2006
National Park Service
United States Department of the Interior.

 

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

 

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Lincoln Park Conservancy
Restoration and Maintenence of the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

From the website.. click here..
By the 1950s, Caldwell’s 1936 Lily Pool design deteriorated and was loaned to the Lincoln Park Zoo as an avian exhibit known as “The Rookery.” This caused further deterioration and, eventually, the zoo no longer required it. The Chicago Park District closed the site to the public for many years. Weedy trees and shrubs grew unchecked, stonework broke, hillsides eroded, wildflowers died, and the pool filled with debris until the Lincoln Park Conservancy came to its rescue.

The Lincoln Park Conservancy raised $1.1 million in private funding for the project and the Chicago Park District allocated $1.3 million from its capital budget. In 1997, the Conservancy adopted the Lily Pool and, with the Chicago Park District, created a Master Plan to restore Caldwell’s historic landscape and improve accessibility. Wolff Landscape Architecture was hired to complete the project. Construction of the $2.4 million project began in 2000 and was completed and reopened to the public in spring 2002. It was also renamed from Lincoln Park Rookery to the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool.

Once again, a “cool, refreshing, clear place” the restoration earned the site National Historic Landmark and Chicago Historical Landmark status.

Lincoln Park Conservancy was founded in 1984. It  has been at the forefront of historic conservation, ecological restoration, park programing and management. It was the first public-private partnership in the Chicago Park District, and the first park conservancy in the City of Chicago.

 

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

The Pavilion / Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

 

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Lily Pool and the Pavilion

Alfred Caldwell designed the Lily Pool and its Pavilions in the 1930s. They resemble a sculpture, rather than shelter. The pavilions had fallen into disrepair. During the 1997 restoration, the Wolff Landscape Architecture brought it back to its original character. Based on historical research, Caldwell’s original drawings and physical evidence, drawings were developed that incorporated both historical elements and new elements, thereby creating more durable structures while retaining the original character of the pavilions.

 

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

The Pavilion / Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

 

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

The Pavilion / Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

 

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Certainly my fav photo at the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool.

 

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

The curving stone walkway /Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

 

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The Stone Walkway

The curving limestone pathway around the lily pool takes one to the pavilion, the council ring and the cascading waterfall..

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

The curving stone walkway / Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

 

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

The Council Ring / Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

 

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The Council Ring

The Council Ring was the signature piece in many gardens designed by Jens Jensen. The Council Ring is a circular stone bench with a fire pit in the center. The council ring is meant to inspire conversation, song, dance, storytelling, poetry, and campfires, linking humanity and nature. In Jensen’s words from Siftings, his only book, “In this friendly circle around the fire, man becomes himself. Here there is no social caste. All are on the same level, looking each other in the face. A ring speaks of friendship and strength and is one of the great symbols of mankind.” These are also called “friendship circles” since there was no superior position to sit in it.

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

The Council Ring / Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

 

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

The Waterfall / Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

 

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The Waterfall

The landscape design of the Caldwell Lily Pool is a tribute to the natural ecology of the Midwest. It was originally designed to mimic a river formed by a melting glacier’s flow of water cutting through limestone. The stonework and paths have a natural look that conveys the interpretation that melted glacial water flows are cutting through moraines, creating dramatic limestone bluffs. A waterfall near the north end of the lily pool represents the source of this glacial river.

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

The Waterfall / Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

 

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

 

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

 

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

 

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Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

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RELATED LINKS

Chicago, Public Art in Lincoln Park .. click here..
Chicago, Art by Location.. click here..
Chicago: Landmark Monuments and Sites.. click here..
Chicago: Parks, Boulevards and Gardens.. click here..

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