Free Wildflower Walks at Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool
Where: Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, 225 W Fullerton Pkwy
When: May 18, June 15, July 20, August 31, September 21, October 5, 201910AM 45-to-60 minute walks. Registration required. If the “free” tickets are not available you should be able to walk up and join the tour as there may be no shows. YMMV, If you are a large group you may not be accommodated. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Join us for free (donations encouraged) guided tours of the beautiful wildflowers around the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. Set against the backdrop of Alfred Caldwell’s Prairie School structures, you’ll enjoy a relaxing walk while learning about the benefits of native wildflowers and how to identify them. Each month will feature different wildflower species in bloom. These easy 45-to-60 minute walks begin at 10am and are great for beginners as well as the experienced and are geared toward adults.
About the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool
“Step through the Prairie-style Fullerton gate and enter a hidden garden of unmatched beauty. Only bird songs and the sound of a gentle waterfall break the restful silence. Follow the stone walk encircling the lily pool and discover a pavilion, council ring, and diverse native plantings. This is the vision of landscape architect Alfred Caldwell: a hidden garden for the people of Chicago designed to resemble a river meandering through a great Midwestern prairie.”
Originally opened in 1936 the site of the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool was originally part of a Victorian garden built in 1889 that displayed tropical lilies and other aquatic plants. Caldwell redesigned the pool to resemble a Midwestern landscape but with Japanese and Prairie School elements including stone work, a wooden pavilion and native plants.
By the 1950s, the Lily Pool had deteriorated and was loaned to the Lincoln Park Zoo as an avian exhibit known as “The Rookery.” The pool continued to deteriorate and the zoo decided not to use it anymore. The Chicago Park District then closed the site to the public for many years. Invasive non-native trees, shrubs and weeds overtook the site, the stonework broke, hillsides eroded, wildflowers died, and the pool filled with debris. This resulted in a famous video of Mr. Caldwell touring the site and screaming about how the Park District had wrecked his pool. I couldn’t find it online. If anyone finds it please send the link.
Anyway the Lincoln Park Conservancy came to the Pools rescue in 1997. The conservancy raised $1.1 million in private funding for the project and the Chicago Park District allocated $1.3 million from its capital budget. The Pool was restored to it’s former grandeur and reopened in 2002. Unfortunately Mr. Caldwell died in 1998.
Chicago conservatories: Lincoln Park Conservatory, Garfield Park Conservatory and the Oak Park Conservatory.
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