South Shore Cultural Center

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Chicago, IL
United States
South Shore Cultural Center

Landscape Information

South Shore Country Club

Located on the Lake Michigan shoreline south of Jackson Park, this 65-acre park originated as the South Shore Country Club, established in 1905. Lawrence Heyworth, president of the Chicago Athletic Club, sought to provide his members a country retreat for recreational pursuits. He convinced members to fund the project and, in 1906, purchased an unimproved parcel primarily used for duck hunting and fishing. The architectural firm Marshall and Fox designed a small clubhouse modeled after one in Mexico City. Club members A. Montgomery Ward and Marshall Field loaned delivery wagons for the transportation of soil, turf, and trees to improve the landscape. Tom Bendelow designed a nine-hole golf course, transplanting putting greens from the Washington Park Golf Club, which closed in 1905. To accommodate the country club’s growing membership, Marshall and Fox designed a larger Mediterranean-style clubhouse, completed in 1916. The H-shaped stucco structure, topped with twin towers and terra cotta roof tiles, was accessed via a long drive lined by a pergola. A formal garden near the clubhouse, and the surrounding grounds, were designed by landscape architect Thomas Hawkes and completed by 1916. 

The Club’s membership peaked at 2,200 in 1957. But due to a policy that restricted African Americans and Jewish people—and as Chicago’s elite began to join clubs in the suburbs—it closed in 1973. The Chicago Park District purchased the site in 1974 and one year later it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The clubhouse was converted to include a gallery and theater, the pergola was reconstructed, and, today, the surrounding park offers landscaped gardens, a bathing beach, golfing, tennis, and a nature sanctuary.