From Outhouse to Fieldhouse!
Our Kids Deserve Better. Children’s programming at Emmerson Park in Chicago is held in a former public restroom building that’s been converted into a tiny fieldhouse.
The children of West Ridge have needed a proper fieldhouse in Emmerson Park for decades. Yet, there never seem to be enough funds for this small park in a diverse, working class neighborhood of Chicago.
The converted restroom shed building is extremely deficient. Half the structure is still restrooms and the other half has a small office and tiny community room. Mops and buckets are still stored in the hallway. This sub-standard building is an embarrassment to the City of Chicago and Chicago Park District.
This building is too small and can only hold a small number of children. There are always long waitlists for most after-school, summer camp, and park district programs. Park district staff do their best but they simply don’t have the space. Due to crossing gang turfs, kids and parents hesitate to attend other parks in other neighborhoods.
Enough is enough!
Meanwhile, 250 feet away from Emmerson Park is the historic Chicago Town & Tennis Club building. This gorgeous, 1920s-era tennis clubhouse building with vaulted ceilings, slate roof, and grand ballrooms was recently used as a church and hosted wedding receptions.
This beautiful, recently-restored, high-quality building is scheduled to be BULLDOZED in June 2020.
It would be the perfect Emmerson Park Fieldhouse….if it can be moved in time!
New fieldhouses in Chicago often cost from $15 to $20 million such as the $13 million for Clarendon Park. Maintenance on existing fieldhouse is costs far less and the City recently announced $1.5 million for Revere Park and $1.8 million for Kosciusko Park.
Relocation would be a fraction of the cost of new construction. The cost to physically move the Chicago Town & Tennis Club building into Emmerson Park and make ADA upgrades is $1.5 million.
For literally “pennies on the dollar” the children of West Ridge can have the amazing fieldhouse they deserve.
Preservation Chicago has been hard at work and has already secured pledges for approximately $250,000 of the relocation cost from Chicago-based foundations who recognize this incredible opportunity for the children of West Ridge. If Misericordia pledged the $250,000 of budgeted demolition funds towards costs of moving the historic building, the difference could be paid for by the Chicago Park District and TIF funding.
The City of Chicago and Chicago Park District must ACT NOW and “find the funds” to relocate the Chicago Town & Tennis Club into Emmerson Park.
Relocating the picturesque Tudor Revival style Chicago Town & Tennis Club building is a perfect solution for Emmerson Park and the West Ridge community. Located at 1925 W. Thome in Chicago, it was designed in 1924 by legendary architects George Maher and his son Philip Maher (contemporaries of Frank Lloyd Wright). George Maher was a seminal figure in both the Prairie style and the Arts & Crafts style movements across America.
The building is orange-rated and would qualify for Chicago Landmark Designation, Adopt-a-Landmark funds and other landmark incentives. It is adjacent to the Clark/Ridge TIF District which could potentially be another funding source.
Additionally, the Chicago Park District could rent out the beautiful historic building’s ballrooms for wedding receptions; much like Cafe Brauer in Lincoln Park which is a huge revenue generator.
This is an incredible opportunity to relocate a historic building and provide a safe haven for kids, expand after-school and camp programs to serve all of the children in the community.
“We hope that all stakeholders will engage in a robust and fruitful conversation and that together we can find a win-win solution that meets that needs of all stakeholders.”(Preservation Chicago 2020 “Chicago 7 Most Endangered” Write Up)