Indian Boundary Park Fieldhouse

From HistoryWiki

2500 W. Lunt Avenue is the Indian Boundary Park.

Included in the 1992-1993 Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Tour, the 1999 Annual Fall House Tour, and the 2010 Annual House Tour.

The Indian Boundary Park Fieldhouse was designated a Chicago Landmark on Wednesday, May 11, 2005.

See: Indian Boundary Park Cultural Center, Indian Boundary Park Zoo

Also included in openhousechicago 2011, 2012.

The fieldhouse architect was Clarence Hatzfeld, who designed many Chicago Park District buildings, including fieldhouses Avondale, Kilbourn, Independence, Portage and Eugene Field Parks, as well as many Prairie-style and Tudor-Revival commercial buildings and residences of the era. The fieldhouse is one of his most distinctive Tudor-Revival works, featuring Native American imagery that pays tribute to the region’s earliest inhabitants. In 2005, the building was given landmark status by the City of Chicago. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and serves as a Chicago Park District Cultural Center.

On May 20, 2012, disaster struck when an electrical fire started in a storage room in the Cultural Center attic, resulting in a collapsed roof, shattered windows, crumbling interior beams and a ten-foot high pile of debris in the center of the building’s Native-American motif auditorium.

Fortunately, the Chicago Park District committed to restoration of the building to its pre-fire condition, salvaging architectural or ornamental features from the debris to aid the effort. The $1.5 million project included new electrical systems, new interior finishes, a new slate roof, new steel roof beams, new copper gutters, masonry repairs and restoration of the historic chandeliers and wall sconces destroyed in the fire. The restoration was meticulous, earning the building its own Richard H. Driehaus Preservation Award, bestowed by Landmarks Illinois, in 2014.

Highlights of the building include the fully restored Assembly Hall, which features wood-beamed ceilings as well as distinctive lighting fixtures and sculpture featuring Native American motifs. The light fixtures were seriously damaged in the fire, but have been skillfully returned to their original magnificence. Elsewhere in the building, Tudor-Revival elements include dramatic gables with broad, shed-roofed dormers; a profusion of half timbering; casement windows with multi-paned glazing arranged in groups; and a window bay topped by stone battlements. Excellent design and craftsmanship in detailing and materials is exhibited by such elements as the Indian head sculpture located above the main entrance and the entrance pylons topped by stone lions.

Indian Boundary Park Fieldhouse Fire

The Historian, Summer, 2012, Volume 28, No. 3., page 10

by Hank Morris

Around noon on Sunday, April 20, 2012, the Chicago Fire Department (CFD) dispatched equipment to 2500 W. Lunt Ave., Indian Boundary Park. The Historic field house was on fire!

The fire was purported (no final report at press time) to have started when Park Manager Phil Martini turned on a fan in the upper level to help cool it off so that the next-scheduled class could have a little relief from the heat of the day. The cause of the fire was under investigation Sunday, but did not appear suspicious, according to Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford.

Black smoke issued forth from the upper windows and flames could easily be seen inside. Upon the arrival of the first units, the on-ground commander wasted no time in calling a second alarm (2-11) and more equipment dashed to the scene. There are different reports of how many pieces of equipment were on-scene ranging from eight to 15.

Regardless, the firefighters quickly struck the fire—which is the important thing.

This was not an easy day to fight a fire as the noon time heat was oppressive, with all that equipment they had to wear just making things worse. Due to a floor collapse, two firefighters were sent to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston. A third, suffered from heat related causes and went to hospital, too.


Nothing appears to really be lost in the art studio area. Sadly, local musicians who were keeping their instruments there did not fare as well. The offices also seem reasonably well off. The damage was focused mainly on the auditorium and the storage space directly above it. Other than debris, the remainder of the field house seems to be okay. Amazingly, the piano survived and was not even wet!

Where to from here?

The Chicago Park District (CPD) representatives in control of the project have stated that they confirmed that the building will NOT be altered in anyway, inside or out. The plan is to make it look exactly as it was prior to the fire which in part is also a requirement of its Landmark status.

What will change are things you cannot see. The building will be brought up to City of Chicago (COC) codes. So electrical circuitries will be replaced and upgraded along with plumbing, etc. Behind the walls is where the Indian Boundary Park Field House will actually enter the 21 Century.

The building is expected to be closed for about a full year. Fortunately, the building was required to be fully insured by CPD as part of its historic designation. The building is expected to be closed for about a full year. Many previously scheduled future activities have been relocated to Warren Park with little inconvenience.


Indian Boundary Park and Cultural Center, 2500 W. Lunt Avenue is a community treasure where visitors can discover a beautifully restored, duck-filled lagoon, a small public zoo area with goats, sheep, chickens and ducks, a children’s spray pool, sandbox, and four tennis courts. There is plenty of open space for peaceful picnics.

As a designated cultural center, Indian Boundary thrives with various painting, piano, dance and voice lessons for both children and adults. Some classes take place on the park’s back porch, so that artists can use the park’s scenery as inspiration. Indian Boundary is a residency site in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago’s program, offering free, family-oriented and interactive concert performances for the community throughout the year.

The Indian Boundary field house, designed by Clarence Hatzfeld, features Native American-themed ornament inspired by the park’s name, taken from a territorial boundary established between the Pottawatomie Indians and United States Government. Inside is a beautiful auditorium with stage, used for programs, theatre productions, concerts, community meetings and private rentals.

The Indian Boundary Park field house was completed in 1929 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. It was named a Chicago Landmark in 2005.

Indian Boundary Park Reopens, December 26, 2013

Indian Boundary Park Field House Reopening Celebration Planned for New Year

By Benjamin Woodard on December 26, 2013 7:51am

WEST ROGERS PARK — The Indian Boundary Park field house, which was badly damaged in a fire more than a year ago, reopens to the public on Dec. 29, officials said.

An open house and celebration is planned for the new year, on Sunday, Jan. 5.

The field house, at 2500 W. Lunt Ave., has been closed since a fire heavily damaged the Chicago landmark in May 2012.

"Great steps were taken to ensure the refurbished [field house] retains all the beauty and grace of the original design," said Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) in a statement.

Silverstein announced the Jan. 5 "grand reopening" celebration, which will include "historical tours of the building as well as musical entertainment and refreshments," from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. A "ribbon cutting ceremony" is planned for 3 p.m.

The field house was built in 1929 and designed by Clarence Hatzfield, one of the city's most prominent architects of park buildings of the 1920s, according to the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society.

Dramatic gables, a window bay topped by stone battlements, an Indian head sculpture above the main entrance and stone lions are among the highlights of the Tudor Revival structure.

It was designated a city landmark in 2005 and is also listed on the National Register of Historical Places.

The field house would be nearly 100 percent rehabilitated, except for the iconic, intricate chandeliers once found in its auditorium, which will need another month of work before being reinstalled, Chicago Park District architect Stephen Grant said earlier this month.

Negotiations with the park district's insurance company delayed the restoration efforts, he said.

Residents can also visit the field house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 29, then 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 30 and Jan. 2 and 3.

Indian Boundary Field House Wins Preservation Award

By Benjamin Woodard,, Friday, May 16, 2014

CHICAGO — The Far North Side's Indian Boundary Park Fieldhouse was among the winners of the Chicago Preservation Excellence Award on Thursday, May 15, 2014.

The full restorations of the Chicago landmarks were completed this year. Eleven other projects across the city have also been honored for preserving Chicago’s architectural landscape.

In West Ridge, the Indian Boundary Park field house was restored by the Chicago Park District after a fire severely damaged the landmark building in 2012.

The field house, built in the 1920s and designated a Chicago landmark in 2005, reopened in January.

"Restoration work included the replication of the first-floor ballroom based on historic documentation and original drawings, the reinstallation of salvaged timbers, and the restoration of salvaged lighting fixtures," the landmark commission said.

The multicolored slate roof was also repaired.

Indian Boundary Park Fieldhouse, Rehabbed After Fire, Again Honored, Thursday, October 16, 2014

Based on article by Benjamin Woodard,

The restoration of the burned-out Indian Boundary Park Fieldhouse received its second preservation award, Alderman Debra Silverstein (D-50th) announced Wednesday, October 15, 2014.

Landmarks Illinois awarded the restoration project — among six other projects throughout the state — the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award.

New Indian Boundary Park Nature Play Center

By Benjamin Woodard,, Friday, August 8, 2014 7:43 a.m.

The Indian Boundary Park Nature Play Center opened Thursday, August 7, 2014, in the park's former zoo grounds. Indian Boundary Park Nature Play Center

WEST RIDGE — Children and adults alike romped through the Indian Boundary Park Nature Play Center, which opened Thursday in the park's former zoo.

"It's just dynamite — something to be proud of," resident Dan Miller said as he snapped photos at the park's opening day.

In the northwest section of Indian Boundary Park, gone are the few goats, chickens and ducks that once occupied the space.

Now, native plants and meandering concrete pathways have replaced the animal pens. The zoo's old swan huts have been partially transformed into toy houses for children to play inside, a big hit with neighborhood children on Thursday.

The old aviary has been transformed into an enclosed pavilion, its fencing wrapped in ivy vines.

The former zoo building, which can be reserved for community events, has new flooring, exposed brick walls, an insulated roof covered with beadboard paneling and a glass garage-style door that opens into the new park.

"I think it's much more useful to the community," said resident Beth Martin, who worked with other community members to have the former zoo space rebuilt.

The park's landscaping was designed by landscape architect Erich Sprague of the Chicago Park District. It was his first project with the district and he won the praise Thursday of Alderman Debra Silverstein (50th), Mayor Rahm Emanuel and park district CEO Michael Kelly.

"This is a jewel," Emanuel said of Indian Boundary, at 2500 W. Lunt Avenue "When they say we're a city in the garden, they're talking about this park right here."

Kelly said Indian Boundary "may be the nicest park" out of all 600 parks in the city.

"Indian Boundary Park has been a beloved fixture of the 50th Ward for nearly a century," said Silverstein. "I am very pleased to have worked with the community to remodel this space and turn it into an exciting new installation that will engage and delight our children for many more years to come."

The park's spray pool had also been upgraded. Both children and adults cooled off in the mist Thursday.

The project, both the nature play center and the spray pool, cost $570,000, according to the mayor's office.

Chicago Landmarks Historic Resources Survey

Architect: Hatzfeld, Clarence

Historic Name: Fieldhouse, Indian Boundary Park

Community: West Ridge

Address: 2500 W. Lunt Avenue

Constructed: Started Monday, July 1, 1929

Classification: Building

Style: Tudor Revival

Type: Fieldhouse/Gym

Color Code: Red (updated)

Landmark? Y (updated)

National Register? Y (updated)

Major Tenant: Chicago Park District

Building Details:

Pin: 1036212005