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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Do you know this place?

When I was a young child, after Sunday School I would climb up along the stone wall that ran from the Kenilworth Union Church along the corners of Kenilworth Avenue and Warwick Road. My dad held my hand and I loved walking along the wall in my patent leather Mary Jane shoes. In those days a little girl might have been wearing in a gathered smocked dress, little white gloves and a Sunday hat. At that time the little garden next to the church was the Charles Ware Memorial Garden. Sometimes we would jump off the wall and just run around in the garden.

The Ware Memorial Garden has been around for many, many years and it has since moved across the street from where I used to walk on the wall. It continues to be a lovely garden that is maintained by the Kenilworth Garden Club, and is one of the few open spaces within Kenilworth. I didn't really know too much about the garden; it was just there next to our church for us to enjoy.

Since joining in the garden club a few years ago, I have taken renewed interested in Ware Memorial Garden. My club members loyally continue to plant and weed and beautify its lovely space. It has a rich history that I think is worth sharing. The following is taken from a pamphlet about the garden that was written in 2000 by my friend, Louellen Murray.

In 1938, Kenilworth, like the rest of the country, struggled to recover from the financial strains of the Great Depression. The Kenilworth Union Church was a case in point. It decided to sell off its adjoining playground on the northeast corner of Warwick Road and Kenilworth Avenue. One of its parishioners, Mrs. Charles Ware (Fannie), recognized this as an opportunity to both help her church and honor her husband. She agreed to acquire the property in order to establish a garden.

Mrs. Ware and Mrs. Stanley Ball, both active members of the Kenilworth Garden Club, worked closely with landscape architect Donald Gray of Cleveland, Ohio. They desired to create a space that would reflect the beauty of all seasons. Their selection of 45 fruiting, flowering, deciduous and evergreen trees, shrubs and rose were installed... the garden was formally dedicated on June 11, 1939.

Charles Ware was one of the pioneers of Kenilworth and his life was part of the history of the Village. He and Mrs. Ware moved to Kenilworth in December 1892 ... Mr. Ware served as a member and President of the Kenilworth Village Board for a number of years...

After Fannie Ware's death, members of the Kenilworth Garden Club assumed responsibility for the continued maintenance of the garden.

By the 1970's, the Kenilworth Union Church had grown and prospered. There was much interest in reclaiming the corner property to create a memorial park.... if the Board of Trustees could acquire another property of equal or similar value, the Park Board would agree to an exchange. Such a property did exist, right across the street.

There was a house at 241 Kenilworth Avenue that that had been abandoned and became known as "the Haunted House." Eventually it was razed in 1940. In 1952, the land was acquired and it was adjoined to the property of 257 Kenilworth Avenue. I remember it as being a wooded and unattractive lot surrounded by a huge black iron fence.... actually it wasn't very attractive. Finally in 1973, the vacant lot was purchased by someone who wanted to build a new house. Eventually, he decided to build a home in the country instead. He agreed to donate the property to the village so that it could become a new Ware Memorial Garden.

By 1980, landscape designer Catherin Cole Church had laid out the plan for a park consisting of natural woodland with adjoining lawn, border by flowering trees, shrubs and ground cover....

The new garden was created and the old garden was formally dedicated as a memorial garden in 1981.

In 1997, as Kenilworth celebrated its centennial year, the Ware Garden became the beneficiary of a gift from the Centennial Gift Committee -- a beautiful fountain. The fountain was dedicated on Memorial Day, 1996 with the comments, "The goals of the Centennial were to celebrate our first century as a village, to meet new friends and neighbors, to gain recgonition of our history, and to dedicate a gift that would be enjoyed by the village for the next hundred years..."

Like any good garden, the Charles Ware Memorial is an organic entity. It grows and changes over the years, nourished by the connectedness the residents feel toward one another in time and space.

I love this little garden for a lot of reasons... it reminds me of the gentle time and place where I grew up. It is natural, serene and a peaceful place to reflect and think. It's like a little oasis in the village -- Kenilworth has so little open spaces, that it is indeed a special place. Take a walk through the garden; it's beautiful.

Update from December - 2013
The Garden Club of America published an article by Lenore Macdonald in their most recent bulletin.   I've included here:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Wild turkey finally captured in Lake Bluff - chicagotribune.com

Alas, the "Slick" turkey has now been captured and removed from Lake Bluff.
Wild turkey finally captured in Lake Bluff - chicagotribune.com

Do you know this place?

When I was at New Trier, I was part of group that held an annual treasure hunt. It was great fun reading the instructions and trying to figure out where to drive to get the next clue. Since we were from all the various New Trier towns, some of us had a leg up on different places in each town. But when the clue read, “God’s orange juice squeezer,” we all knew the answer – The Bahai Temple. I know it sounds a bit sacrosanct, but that’s what we called it.


For those of us who grew up on the North Shore, the Bahá'í Temple was a familiar landmark. For me personally, when I saw the building as my folks would return from Chicago and drive North along Sheridan Road, I always knew we were getting close to home. It’s a building that I pretty much took for granted until visitors from out of town would come and visit. It was always a “head turner” as they were stunned to see this amazing architectural structure in the midst of the quiescent North Shore suburbs.


The Bahá'í Temple (officially known as The Bahá'í House of Worship) was brought to the site by Nettie Tobin. Construction was begun in 1921 and was eventually completed in 1953. There were delays during the Great Depression and World War II. It is the largest and the oldest surviving Bahá'í House of Worship. Known by Baha'is as the "Mother Temple of the West" and formally as the "Bahá'í House of Worship for the North American Continent", it located on Sheridan Road near the Wilmette Harbor. The exterior is white Portland cement concrete with both clear and white quartz aggregate. The building has received numerous design awards, and in 1978 was added to the National Register of Historic Places.


The principal architect was Louis Bourgeois, but the interior cladding was designed by Alfred Shaw of Shaw, Metz, and Dolio. Engineering plans were prepared by Allen McDaniel of The Research Service of Washington, D.C. The general contractor was George A. Fuller, Co. Both the pioneering exterior and interior cladding were fabricated and constructed by John Joseph Earley and the Earley Studio.


On April 30, 2007, the Bahá'í House of Worship was named one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois by the Illinois Bureau of Tourism representing the Chicago metropolitan area.


The building is open to visitors every day of the year. Currently, devotional services are held at 9:15 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 5.15 p.m. daily.

Stay tuned, as we continue to tour the North Shore and see how well you know its places!