River Park has one. Jefferson Park has one. Independence Park has one. Why doesn’t Hollywood Park have a Clarence Hatzfeld-designed fieldhouse?
As this Chicago Tribune (February 1931) clipping shows, Hollywood Park was supposed to have one. Clarence Hatzfeld’s design for a Hollywood Park community house/fieldhouse was approved and work was scheduled to begin. But, instead of a Tudor Revival fieldhouse, generations of Hollywood Park area residents had to make do with a generic bunker that barely had enough space for the ping-pong table.
Blame it on the Great Depression
The Hollywood Park District, formed in 1926, purchased parcels of lands for a park to be bound by Peterson, Christiana, Thorndale and Spaulding. There was to be an assembly hall, parlors, boardrooms, club rooms, secretary’s office, banquet hall, kitchen and playroom. In addition to the fieldhouse, the grounds would include a playground, wading pool, sandbox, outdoor shelter, trees, shrubs, flowers, curving paths, shady nooks and a rock garden. According to the Chicago Tribune article, work on the building was to be rushed, “with a view to having it dedicated at an early date.”
The rock garden, complete with goldfish pond, was built. There was a waterfall and there were trees imported from China and Japan. And then the park commissioners’ well ran dry. Work on the fieldhouse never started.
The Chicago Park District acquired the property in 1934 and following WWII they purchased additional land, expanding the park to its present-day eastern border at Jersey (Kedzie). Later, sometime in the 1950s, the Park District filled in the rock garden and built the current fieldhouse.
My family’s move to Hollywood Park in the early 1960s was an improvement over our life in Budlong Woods in every way except for the profoundly disappointing park itself. Hollywood Park had the facilities–a tennis court, basketball court, baseball diamond, children’s playground and outdoor ice skating–but not much in the way of organized activities. Back at Budlong Woods’ glorious River Park, I had enjoyed countless classes–dance, tumbling, baton twirling, singing, arts and crafts, swimming–even though I was only six at the time we moved.
I’m not saying Hollywood Park wasn’t fun. But what if the plans for a Clarence Hatzfeld-designed fieldhouse hadn’t been abandoned? What a difference it would have made in our young lives and in the community itself.
Sources: (1) HOLLYWOOD PARK COMMUNITY BUILDING FOR NORTHWEST SIDE Hollywood Pk. District to Have New Unit. (1931, February 22). Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963),24. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1987). (Document ID: 457541732). (2) Chicago Park District website.
Related post: Architect Clarence Hatzfeld designed houses in Chicago’s landmark Villa neighborhood.
Note: Julia Bachrach will be giving a talk, “Architect Clarence Hatzfeld Is Haunting Me,” on October 27, 2010, at the Chicago Architecture Foundation.