Information about and Photos of the Restored
63rd St. Bathing Pavilion (1919, 1999)
in Chicago's Jackson Park. Granted city landmark designation. Renaming for Eric Hatchett

This page is brought to you by Jackson Park Advisory Council and hosted by www.hydepark.org and the Parks Committee of Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. Both organizations welcome your support! Contact Gary Ossewaarde, for JPAC and HPKCC.

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The 63rd Beach House (or Bathing Pavilion at Jackson Park) was introduced June 3, 2004 for Landmark Designation by the Department of Planning and Development to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. This was step 2 in a process that can take up to a year. Nomination was submitted by Alderman Leslie A. Hairston. It entered step 7 upon being "introduced" to City Council December 1 and was presented in detail and voted on by the Landmarks Committee (Char. Arenda Troutman, 20th) December 6. Full Council vote, step 8, took place December 8, 2004. The 63rd Street Beachhouse is therefore now a City of Chicago Designated Landmark.

63rd St Beach House (Bathing Pavilion) wins landmark designation. In 2004, Alderman Hairston nominated for City of Chicago Landmarks Designation the 1919 Mediterranean Revival Bathing Pavilion at Jackson Park (as it was called in the opening ceremony notice, a.k.a. 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion) . The Department of Planning and Development researched the matter in accord with the criteria in the Landmarks Ordinance and presented a recommendation of support, with documentation, to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. The Commission granted preliminary recommendation in late May. The matter takes several months, during which the owner (Chicago Park District) and interested parties are consulted and further research conducted, including on impacts and exactly what features are to be protected, in this case presumably the building excluding parts subject to renovation needs such as concessions. During this process, any change or permit request proposed by the owner requires special reviews and a 90-day delay. If the Commission makes a final recommendation for designation, the matter is introduced in City Council, reviewed by the Landmarks Committee, then voted on by the full Council. At its June meeting, JPAC resolved its approval of landmark designation for the beachhouse (see below). The pavilion was approved by the Commission in November 2004, introduced into City Council December 1, given a full presentation and approved by Ald. Arenda Troutman’s (20th) Landmarks Committee December 6, and voted final designation by City Council December 8.

[Work on a 10-acre extension of the beach started in 1914, followed by construction of the bathing pavilion, completed in 1919. It had open balconies, and loggias, bathrooms, showers, medical rooms, and separate courtyards for men and women with hundreds of wooden changing rooms.]

The 63rd facility (often mistakenly called "64th" or even "65th"), designed in house but obviously influenced by the nearby South Shore Country Club (Marshall and Fox 1906 and subs) and some of Daniel Burnham's park buildings such as at Sherman, was a strong expression of Mediterranean Revival shore resort architecture, built as swimming, rather than just visiting, beaches became very popular. Cost: $173,000. The facility, but not the part of the beach lying northwest, was segregated for many years. In the second half of the century, the facility was neglected and much of it used for storage. JPAC president Eric Hatchett worked tirelessly in the neighborhoods and media to have it restored. The facility, restored at a cost of $8 million, was rededicated in 1999. It incorporated an interactive spray fountain and serenity garden largely paid for by the legacy of the Max Schiff family. Completion of the new nearby underpass (whose upper section was designed to echo the roof of the beach house towers) should increase access, especially if excess drivers use the rebuilt lot west of the Drive north of Hayes.

The facility is highly popular and continues to see steadily increasing use. Some issues are leaks, elimination of the faulty bus turnaround, of course pollution leading to swimming bans, realization of a circle for drummers to the east, and a way to honor Mr. Hatchett's advocacy for the facility, which the Council has sought since 1999.

Jackson Park Advisory Council Resolution of June, 2004

JPAC approves and supports City of Chicago Landmark Designation for the 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion.

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Coverage: Landmarking and naming

Hyde Park Herald, November 17, 2004. by Mike Stevens

The Jackson Park Advisory Council rekindled its campaign earlier this month to rename the 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion for former council president Eric Hatchett as the city entered the final phase in landmarking the 85-year-old building .

The council forwarded Hatchett's name anew at its October meeting in anticipation of the Chicago Landmarks Commission Nov. 3 recommendation to city council that the beach side building be granted the city's protective landmark status.

As advisory council president in the 1990s, Hatchett pushed for the restoration of the rectangular two-story bathhouse. Hatchett died in 1999 just months before the pavilion's reopening. He was 47.

"I feel, and I think it's pretty clear, that without Eric's pushing... the place would simply have fallen apart," current council President Nancy Hays said.

The Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners will make the final naming decision but council recommendations are taken into consideration, parks spokesman John Pagone said.

In the past, council member Ross Petersen said, the park district proposed naming a part of the building for Hatchett. "The first time they came to us with the balcony we were lukewarm on it and didn't really jump on it," Petersen said. "Now it seems the most we can hope for."

During the $8 million renovation, work crews restored two large open-air courtyards that had been converted into locker roms but had been used as storage for years. Crews also repaired and replaced tiles on the building's roof.

City Council will likely take up the landmarking issue before the new year. Landmark status would protect the building from demolition and "insensitive changes" to the exterior, landmarks commission officials said.

Naming issues will have no effect on landmarking, city planning department spokesman Pete Scales said. "It's the physical building that we are the most concerned about not what hey call it," Scales said. City Council is expected to approve the recommendation.

Completed in 1919 for $173,000, the bathhouse's symmetrical construction echoes the classical lines seen in older South Side parks buildings designed by the firm of Daniel Burnham. The two enclosed courtyards flank the two story open-aired bathhouse that is itself topped by twin towers. Like the park district's Sherman fieldhouse, the 63rd Street bathhouse's pyramid-shaped roof and wide eaves also make a nod to the locally-grown Prairie School of architecture...

[Herald, Dec. 15, 2004, by Mike Stevens:] ... Landmark status for Jackson Park's 63rd Street bathing pavilion comes [five years] after an $8 million renovation project. During the rehab project, work crews restored two large open-air courtyards that had been converted into locker rooms but instead had been used as storage for years. Crews also repaired and replaced tiles on the building's roof.

The Jackson Park Advisory Council has been lobbying the park district to name the bathing pavilion after Eric Hatchett. As council president in the 1990's, Hatchett pushed for the restoration of the [now] 85-year-old pavilion. He died in 1999 just months before the pavilion's reopening.

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Upper section on target for naming for Eric Hatchett

The Chicago Park District Committee on Programs granted final recommendation of naming the Upper Pavilion of the 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion for Eric Hatchett at its meeting April 13. This naming was strongly backed by JPAC, Alderman Hairston and Friends of the Parks and, was given final approval by the Board at its meeting at 4 pm same day and place.

At a meeting at the Park District, agreement was reached that staff will seek naming of the upper part and overlook of the Bathing Pavilion for Eric Hatchett, deceased JPAC president who worked tirelessly in the 1990s for restoration of the neglected facility and died in early 1999 shortly before the facility was reopened. JPAC has offered to pay for or contribute to fine identifying plaques.

In October 2005, finalization of plaque design and wording was underway.

On the agreement to name the balcony/upper story for Eric Hatchett

Hyde Park Herald, January 26, 2005. By Mike Stevens. [Ed. note- the facility was a bathing pavilion--i.e. a changing house for beach users, and was not a bathhouse--a very different and also usually very honorable Chicago tradition.]

Jackson Park Advisory Council members said last week that they are satisfied with the park district's [decision to] rename the second story of the 63rd Street bathhouse after former council President Eric Hatchett.

The Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners will make the final naming decision, spokesman Michele Jones said. The proposal must be presented to the board at least one month before a final vote to leave time for community input, Jones said. "It definitely involves some community vetting," Jones said.

The council had shot down past offers to have part of the historic beach-side pavilion named for Hatchett. But after a year of campaigning, the park district's latest offer to rename the building's balcony for Hatchett seems the best option, council Vice-President Ross Petersen said. "This is suitable enough and significant enough part of the facility," Petersen said. "It would be nice to get this resolved."

As council president in the 1990s, Hatchett pushed for the restoration of the rectangular two-story bathhouse. Hatchett died in 1999 just months before the pavilion's reopening. He was 47.

"I feel, and I think it's pretty clear, that without Eric's pushing...the place would simply have fallen apart." current council President Nancy Hays said.

During the $8 million project, work crews restored two large open-air courtyards that had been converted into locker rooms but had been used as storage for years. Crews also repaired and replaced tiles on the building's roof.

City council voted Dec. 8 to grant landmark status to the lakefront pavilion. A city landmark status protected from demolition and "insensitive changes" to the exterior, landmarks commission officials said.

Completed in 1919 for $173,385, the bathhouse's symmetrical construction echoes the classical lines seen in older South Side parks buildings designed by the firm of Daniel Burnham.

The two enclosed courtyards flank the two story open-air bathhouse that is itself topped by twin towers. Like the park district's Sherman fieldhouse, t he 63rd Street bathhouse's pyramidal roof and wide eaves also make a not to the locally-grown Prairie School of architecture.

From the February 2005 JPAC Newsletter

Officers of JPAC and the Chicago Park District met on January 1 and ranched agreement to start the process for naming the balconies o the recently landmarked 63rd St. Bathing Pavilion for Eric Hatchett, driving force behind the facility's 1998-99 restoration and reopening. The Council has offered to consider paying for appropriate plaques. The process should enter a 45-day public comment period later this winter before final consideration by the CPOD Board of Commissioners. A report will be made at the February JPAC meeting. JPAC has consistently resolve upon and sought recognition in the facility for Eric's work since Eric's early death a few months before the Pavilion was reopened. We thank CPD officers. (Above Herald coverage followed.)

Letter of Support from Friends of the Parks, March 14, 2005, to Judy Martinez, Director of Community and Intergovernmental Affairs, Chicago Park District

Friends of the Parks writes to support the naming o the balcony pavilions of the 63rd street bAthing Pavilion after Eric Hatchett, the past president of the Jackson Park Advisory Council.

We were privileged to know and work with Eric Hatchett during the decade he spent working to improve, preserve and promote Jackson Park. As president of the Jackson Park Advisory Council, Eric was a tireless advocate. He focused on completing physical improvements to both Jackson Park and the 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion. Under his leadership much was accomplished to improve the park and park programming

We understand that the naming proposal was approved by the Board of Commissioners and will bo back to the board for final approval after a 4-day public comment period.

Friends of the Parks wholeheartedly supports the naming proposal.

Sincerely, Erma Tranter, President

 

Hyde Park Herald coverage, April 20, 2005

The Chicago Park District Board unanimously approved naming the second story balcony at the 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion for Eric Hatchett. As advisory council president in the 1990s, Hatchett pushed for the restoration of the rectangular two-story bathhouse [sic].

"He agitated for years and years to have repairs done at that place," said longtime Jackson Park Advisory Council member Polly Silberman. "Without him it wouldn't be standing."

Hatchett died in 1999 just months before the pavilion's reopening. He was 47. The advisory council had lobbied for years for the entire pavilion to be renamed for Hatchett and settled for the balcony more recently.

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Biography of Eric Hatchett

As in Park District call for public comments, Slightly modified

Eric Hatchett (1951-1999) was a community activist who was deeply devoted to Washington and Jackson Parks and the surrounding neighborhoods. Eric's activism began while he was a student at Chicago Vocational High School when, at 17 years old, he joined Al Raby's campaign to be a delegate to the Illinois Constitutional Convention. His interest in politics led him to the successful campaigns of numerous progressive political candidates. Eric was committed to the Woodlawn community and was a volunteer with the Woodlawn Organization (TWO). By the 1990s, he became involved with the Washington Park Advisory Council and Jackson Park Advisory Council (JPAC). He served one year as vice-president of JPAC and served as president during the last 7 years of his life.

Along with Park District swimming instructor Robert C. Cherry III and other community members and leaders, Eric advocated for the rehabilitation of the historic 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion. In the late 1990's, when the Chicago Park District began a major effort to rehabilitate the building, Eric worked tirelessly alongside CPD staff members, attended every planning and design meeting. The resulting $8 million project has won many awards and the 63rd st. Bathing Pavilion is now listed as a Chicago Landmark. Eric also worked with parents of Jackson Park children to expand the recreation programs in the park; he contributed to the JPAC newsletter; and helped the Chicago Park District monitor the day-to-day conditions and operations in the park.

 

63rd Bathing Pavilion upper balconies named for Eric Hatchett

At its April meeting, the Board of Commissioners of the Chicago Park District gave final naming after Eric Hatchett to the balcony pavilions of the recently landmarked 63rd Street Bathing Pavilion at the 63rd Street Beach. Jackson Park Advisory Council wishes to thank all those who worked for or granted this naming: the Park District Commissioners, especially Margaret Burroughs and Robert Pickens, General Superintendent Timothy J. Mitchell, Director of Community and Government Affairs Judy Martinez, Director of Planning and Development Arnold Randall, Manager of Community Outreach Robert Steele, Planning Department planner and Park District historian Julia Bachrach, Lakefront Director Megan McDonald, Alderman Leslie A. Hairston (5th), Friends of the Parks, the Hyde Park Herald, and the many members of the Council starting with President Nancy Hays, who prepared a fine album of materials on Hatchett and the Bathing Pavilion, wrote letters, circulated petitions, and kept all the parties at it until a good solution was achieved.

Hatchett was encouraged by swimming coach Robert Cherry III in the early 1990s to take on rescue and restoration of the huge 1919 Mediterranean Resort style beach house and subsequently was JPAC president. He died in 1999, a few months before the reopening of the Pavilion with a wonderful interactive play fountain made possible by the Schiff family legacy. JPAC and others subsequently worked to have the facility named for Hatchett.

This year a resolution, originally proposed by Park District Commissioner Pickens, was mutually agreed upon between JPAC officers and Park District planners, was granted 45-day public comment period by the Board of Commissioners, and given final passage April 13. JPAC will next work with the park district to find and pay for a bronze plaque with an attractive design.

63rd Street Bathing Pavilion is a distinctive and pleasurable landmark visible from afar along the lakefront. There is ample parking on both sides of Lake Shore Drive and a new, themed underpass with a reconstructed dune vegetation. North of the facility, the 1880s granite-paver sloped beach is being reconstructed. Facilities include water sports, large cycles, the interactive fountain, and a serenity garden. Let’s do our part for reduced pollution and swim bans this year.

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A reminiscence of the 63rd granite beach and the beachhouse (from afar) by Paul G. Bruce, from the January 2003, JPAC Newsletter

I have followed with interest comments about the granite promenade along the lakefront from about 57th Street south. One part of the history of this promenade seems to have been forgotten. Growing up here in Chicago in the 1930’s I remember that the far south end of the promenade was part of the “Colored Beach” at 63rd Street. There was a fence at the north end of the 63rd Street beach. Although the gates in this fence always stood open it was just “understood” (segregation Chicago style) that you did go on the south side of the fence if you were not White. There was not a lot of sand on the Colored side of the fence. A large portion of it was the granite paving. If the beach was crowded it was frequently necessary to spread your towel or blanket on the granite paving. I still have memories of some uncomfortable afternoons spent sitting on a towel which provided little relief from the hardness of the stones.

It was also “understood” that the beach house was not open to you if you were Black so it was not possible to change your clothing. People resorted to having friends hold up towels to make a kind of cabana to provide some privacy. Of course your friends might use this opportunity to play tricks. I recall one afternoon when a boy’s friends suddenly ran away with the towels they had been holding as well as his clothing and swim suit, leaving him stark naked on the beach. His only recourse was to dash into the water and stay there until they tired of the joke.

Failing the makeshift cabana, the other alternative was to get out of the water early and try to allow time for your swim suit to dry before putting your clothes on over it. This never worked very well. By the time we got off the street car on the way home there was always a large wet spot on the seat of your pants. When my father took us to the beach in the car he always went to the 31st St. beach where the beach house was open to all.

When the renovated beach house reopened a few years ago and I went to look at it, it was the first time in all my seventy-eight years that I had ever set foot inside of it.

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Photo Gallery

photos below by Gary Ossewaarde and George Rumsey

The first view is no longer possible, since the old pedestrian overpass has been torn down and replaced with an underpass dedicated May 29, 2003. Notice that the sign below does not mention the Schiff Legacy for the interactive fountain, although this is mentioned on a small plaque at the fountain.

63rd Bathing Pavilion 63rd Bathing Pavilion
63rd Bathing Pavilion, northwests tower at concession 63rd Bathing Pavilion, from the beach
63rd Bathing Pavilion, detailing of bacony and ooof 63rd Bathing Pavilion, look at the land side front
63rd Bathing Pavilion 63rd Bathing Pavilion, curent small signage
63rd Bathing Pavilion, upper balcony pavilion Shiff Legacy Interactive Play Fountain at 63rd Bathing Pavilion
Shiff Play Fountain, 63rd Bathing Pavilion 63rd Bathing Pavilion, edging of the Play Fountain area
63rd Bathing Pavilion, Serenity Garden at east end

lookiing at the 63d beach and bathing pavilion, the new bike trail, and granite pavers to be reinstalled

From now-reinstalled granite paver beach and the new bike/ped Lakefront Trail to the north of the beach.

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