Welcome to the January 2012 J.P.A.C Newsletter online

Jackson Park/JPAC homepage (http://www.hydepark.org/parks/jpac.html).
hydepark.org Parks homepage

TAKE OUR SURVEY! You can find here and print (and return as therein), or take a slightly different version online in our new website, or ask us for earlier paper versions, as was mailed with the July 2011 Newsletter.

Visit our new official website: http://www.jacksonparkadvisorycouncil.org.

Published by Jackson Park Advisory Council, a recognized advisory body to the Chicago Park District, Chicago Illinois

Editor Gary Ossewaarde, JPAC Secretary. Hosted by hydepark.org, website of Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (owner, hpkcc@aol.com) by OnShore Communications.

To January 2012 front page in pdf (contents, Jan. mtg. agenda, vitae and announcements)
To January 2012 body in pdf

Jackson Park Advisory Council Minutes of the December 14, 2011 Meeting

President Louse McCurry called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. at the fieldhouse. 18 members were present plus guests from Museum of Science and industry and Chicago Department of Transportation. Treasurer Dwight Powell was excused. Minutes of the November minutes were approved later in the meeting, noting that all Nov. Newsletter minutes should have given Charles Marks, Jr. (d. 2006) as the person in whose name memorial trees were planted. Gary Ossewaarde reported a bank balance of c. $4,900 (several authorized checks had cleared and two recently processed dues/contributions for 2011 deposited.) Richard Dervin joined at the meeting, our first 2012 contribution.

Guests from the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI),and Chicago Dept. of Transportation (CDOT) presented revised plans to update the group entry, parking and receiving area between the west end of the Museum and Cornell Drive. MSI’s Mary Krinock, VP for Strategic Initiatives; Ed McDonald, Dir. of Facilities, and Dick Klarich, Mgr. Cap. Construction led presentation and discussion. Original plans shown at the Dec. 2008 meeting remain in their essence as then, with main changes at the south side of the site and with traffic and pedestrian movement. Purposes are to upgrade management of buses and better phase entry for over 25,000 group visitors to the museum each year, improve receiving and disposal, manage storm drainage, and do these in a way that is safe, green, attractively landscaped, and meshes better with traffic flow to and around the museum. The improvements will be facilitated by better scheduling of groups, management of groups and buses via cell phone, and well-laid out, clear-to-children pathways. The site will hold up to 18 buses, reducing disorganized bus parking offsite. Other components are permeable pavers, storm water management, landscape. The team agreed to let Jerry Levy and Fran Vandervoort review landscape plans* (which include native and non-native plants picked for hardiness and sufficient soil and gravel to support). Drive entries, curb cuts were carefully evaluated and modified per CDOT. Asked was consideration of any ways to discourage shortcutting across Cornell Drive. No start date has yet been set, but should be summer or a bit later 2012. [*Ed.: The Museum promptly shared plant list.]

Rebecca Graff, Ph.D., archeologist, instructor in Anthropology at the University of Chicago, director of recent archeological reconnaissance and digs south of the project site and on Wooded Island, and JPAC member, raised strong concerns about impact of the project on as-yet incompletely surveyed historical resources in the project footprint, especially but not limited to south of the current parking pavement, site of the Ohio Pavilion and the most productive/promising infrastructure and material culture deposits from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Projects with governmental funding must make certain accommodations for historical/archeological resources. The site is also in several historic districts under various government levels, and MSI has city landmarking. Graff and the project team agreed to meet to resolve and accommodate historic resources management.
Jerry Levy moved, 2nd, and approved that JPAC supports the group entry-parking/receiving area project of MSI and CDOT as a material improvement to the park, subject to resolution of the historic-archeological resources and any other material concerns and assuming detail plans being substantially as described. The presenters were heartily thanked.

President McCurry reported on a presentation she, Secretary Gary Ossewaarde, and member Robert McCurry-Davis attended at LaRabida Children’s Hospital, convened by Alderman Leslie Hairston, Chicago Park District Area Manager Cordell Hopkins, LaRabida CEO Brenda Wolf, and LaRabida CFO Mark D. Renfree. McCurry distributed at tonight’s meeting a report on the LaRabida meeting and Project. The plan by VOA Architects, lead Mr. Kahana is to build a 1-story, state-of-the-art outpatient clinic and therapy garden behind the present Pick (1960s) outpatient building and to update, make more attractive and partially repurpose the latter, all within the present, c.1930 lease line. Reasons: problems with accessibility, low ceilings, and accommodating state of the art medical equipment and supports, and to provide ample, attractive, and green-certified space for the modern practice of medicine and therapy—including allowing patients to see and be able to be wheeled into a roof and garden close to the lake and landscape. It is 70 percent funded. The plan, McCurry said, seems to serve a public interest and fit in with the historic and landscape character of the Promontory Circle part of the park, including keeping- and making more attractive- access (walking and bike path) along the lake shore. There will be a slightly increased diminishment of lake view from above over a short distance where vista is restricted already. The Hospital agreed to work with the Alderman and JPAC to give the playground occupying the proposed site (currently having very limited availability to the public and mostly unused by patients) for suitable relocation in the park for public use. The Hospital also showed ways it and the specially-chosen contractor will keep most of the staging and construction parking outside the park. The Alderman and Hospital will hold a meeting for the boaters and other harbor stakeholders in the spring to make sure there is ample parking and access. The JPAC representatives appreciated the Alderman’s asking JPAC to consider the plan before she granted approval and agreed to bring the project to the next JPAC meeting for a vote. When plans are further along, JPAC will expect presentation at a JPAC meeting or another open opportunity which may occur at LaRabida in February along with an offered opportunity for members to tour the facility. Construction, providing approvals are granted, would start as early as summer 2012 and take about a year. Moved by Gary Ossewaarde, 2nd Jerry Levy and approved to grant approval assuming the project remains substantially as presented including promised resolution of concerns and holding follow up meetings.

Outreach: Louise McCurry discussed Jackson Park and JPAC initiatives at a Montgomery Place residents’ program attended by about 75 enthusiastic residents. Many stories and memories of Jackson Park were shared. Several residents and their canine companions now regularly patrol and (the humans) do cleanup at the ‘Iowa’ building across the street. Requested was one or a series of tours in Jackson Park. A follow up meeting will be held with those who wish to help with JPAC membership and fundraising. Many signed our petition for naming the Wooded Island north bridge for Nancy Campbell Hays. JPAC thanks Emily Vogel of Montgomery Place management for her part in arranging the program.
Weatherization clinic. All volunteers, organizations who took part in the well attended November 12 Weatherization Clinic at the fieldhouse were appreciated. Chief organizer was Toshia Booker. Next workshop: February 18.

Trail map, Nature. Our attractive two-sided, 8x14 flyer/brochure was distributed. Flyers are now stocked in a display box on the camera-pole north of the north bridge to Wooded Island. Featured are the history of, and what to look for on the Island, including what trees and shrubs to find where, with a key of leaf shapes. The species-names correspond to discrete tags on trees and shrubs. The flyer was prepared by Jerry Levy and Fran Vandervoort and proofed and approved by the Chicago Park District. At various stages, staff of several divisions were consulted, including Matthew Freer, Jason Steger, Jason Scott, Peggy Stewart, and Zhanna Yermikov. Natural Resources Director is Adam Schwerner. All are thanked. Small groups are already enthusiastically using the flyer. Commendation for the project and authorization for checks for costs was moved by the nature committee’s Jerry Levy, 2nd Fran Vandervoort and approved.
The committee noted that wayfinding signs to and about natural areas and other park features or history (like in Washington Park) would be desirable but are very expensive. The committee also would like to have advance knowledge of other tours in the park and offer their sponsors information and materials to share with their groups.
The Bobolink contractor, Pizzo, continued cleaning and clearing excess brush.
A prescribed burn was held in a part of Wooded Island. Its effectiveness was limited by our wet fall.

Park and Program, Supervisor’s Report. William Tillis and Andrea Frink thanked JPAC for 25 donated turkeys for thanksgiving/Turkey Trot. With 30 turkeys from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, about 60 families were fed. AKA with The Healing Experience also gave for the autumn-end Holiday family program on December 17. Esther Schechter moved, 2nd Vandervoort and approved $50 towards the Holiday Party. Pictures of the Turkey Trot and party will be placed on the jacksonparkadvisorycouncil.org website.

Park condition and fixes. The area of Richards/Marquette drives by the Inner Harbor and its boat dock were extensively cleaned up under Park District and are added to JPAC’s list of cleanup rounds. Agreed: to have a end-of-the-year cleanup there December 17 11 am, especially to remove fishing twine that strangles ducks.
Beavers have shown up and plans are to live-trap and release them before they do more damage to trees.
A GreenCorps class led by CPD Forester Jerome Scott has nearly finished cleaning/clearing by the LaRabida lake shore. JPAC applauded—the site and its views are now beautiful and visited by many families.
Graffiti have largely been removed from the park. Keeping up with that in the 57th Dr. underpass is difficult. Many sports court lights are back on. Four tennis courts have been cleaned; to be considered is care of--and possible need for new-- nets. A request was made, in light of people using metal detectors to remind all that Jackson is a historic park and unauthorized digging, disturbance or removal of historic artifacts is not allowed.
JPAC agreed to, and some volunteered to form, a committee to assemble safety information on playgrounds and do a safety and state survey of the seven or so in Jackson Park this winter.
A concern was expressed about insufficient lighting on parts of the Take the Field track and field.

JPAC directed parties to draw up a list/book of 2011 accomplishments including by each committee, with before and after pictures, and for each committee to tally volunteer hours. This will be shared with the park district, Friends of the Parks and maybe media. Esther Schechter offered a commendation of JPAC members and President McCurry for an extraordinarily productive year. The Park District staff and contractors were also commended.
The meeting adjourned to a very nice holiday spread, also applauded. Next meeting January 9, 7:30, fieldhouse.

Respectfully submitted, Gary Ossewaarde, Secretary


The best of New Years to all!
We will miss the support of retiring Park District Commissioner and South Side businessman and activist Robert J. Pickens.

Thanks to our 45 member-contributors at the Friend and Guardian level, volunteers, site stewards, project organizers, and substantial organization supporters in gifts and in-kind- MSI, University of Chicago, Hyde Park Bank, La Rabida, and Kirby Pickett Baseball.
In the new year, watch for our letter asking for your gift or volunteer contribution for a greater park.


MSI completes historic façade restoration project with federal help. From Hyde Park Herald, Dec. 7, 2011

The Museum of Science and Industry recently completed a critical masonry restoration project on its historic 1893 building with the help of a $400,000 grant from the Department of Interior; the National Park Service, through the Save America's Treasures (SAT) grant program [and] from…President Barack Obama's Committee on the Arts and Humanities…. "We are very grateful for this generous SAT grant, which has helped the Museum to continue the good stewardship of its beautiful and historic building," said Ed McDonald, the museum's director of facilities.
The museum was the only organization in Illinois, and one of 41 across the country, to receive an SAT grant in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. With these grant funds, which totaled $9.5 million, organizations and agencies are able to preserve the structures, places, documents, artistic works and artifacts that are deemed of significance to the nation.

The Museum of Science and Industry's building is the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 Worlds' Columbian Exposition. It is the only building left standing from the fair's"White City" and is included within the Jackson Park and Midway Plaisance Historic Landmark District.

Protecting it for the enrichment of future generations is a top priority for the Museum, and MSI matched the grant funds to make the necessary repairs to the building's exterior masonry, which had suffered from deterioration due to Chicago's extreme weather. The areas of the museum's highly decorative East and West Pavilions that were most exposed and had been the most affected include the carved limestone, cast stone and terra cotta elements at the East and West Pavilion dome drums and the marble panels replicated from the Parthenon in Athens.

Have you ever wondered about the history of the Darrow Bridge?, which crosses at the narrows between Columbia Basin (south of the Museum) and the Jackson Park Lagoons, and is badly in need of repairs. The original “North Pond” bridge was completed in 1884, and the abutments were used for the replacement built for the Columbian Exposition. Dick Klarich of MSI clarified to Robert McCurry-Davis, who writes and maintains jacksonparkadvisorycoucil.org, “Tim Samuelson, Chicago’s cultural historian, told me that the stone masonry end walls of the Darrow Bridge actually go back to the early construction work for Jackson Park BEFORE the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The bridge deck structure is NOT the original from the 1893 expo, but the railings are.”


Do you remember when there were jazz and classical concerts on the Museum’s south “porch” – and even earlier in the Music Court south of the SE parking and east of Darrow Bridge and the north entry to Bobolink Meadow? The concerts on the former were actually the start of the predecessor of the Hyde Park Jazz Society—maybe concerts could be restarted (If you have pictures let us know.) The south porch walls at the basin, last rebuilt in 1937, are substantially sound and not leaking. Access from the west will still be possible after the west lot project, and there will be a new walk along the new south of edge of the new lot.

Next JPAC Workshop- February 18, 1-4 pm. Small Tool Sharpening. Fieldhouse

Wooded Island bird walks year-round Wed. 7 a.m. (7:15 winter), Sat. 8. Darrow Bridge
(Congratulations to Chicago and National Audubon on a highly successful Christmas Bird Count.)

Friends of the Parks- visit their website, http://www.fotp.org, for many interesting programs.
February 2 is the annual awards lunch ($) that honors many PACs and other park contributors.
February 25 a.m. is the annual PAC Conference at South Shore Cultural Center. Our own Fran Vandervoort is on the Conference planning committee. Ask/register from Maria Stone, 312 857-2757.

 

Phoenixes from Columbian Exposition on view again
by Gary Ossewaarde. Revised from a similar article by Mr. Ossewaarde was first published with the September JPAC Newsletter. A shorter version was published in the Fall Park Advocate of Friends of the Parks.

The Art Institute of Chicago’s Asian Galleries have become a fitting home for four carved and painted wooden panels that once were the highlight of Japan’s exhibit at the Columbian Exposition of 1893, the Hoh-o-den, in the north end of Jackson Park’s Wooded Island, just to the west of the modern Osaka Japanese Garden. After careful restoration, the panels are mounted on permanent view above display cases and the entry to a special contemplative room within the Japanese and Asian Galleries of the Weston Wing, Michigan Avenue first floor.

The panels (ramma), each of two planks, were deeply and elaborately carved and heavily painted and applied with gold leaf, as was commonly done to add brightness in Japanese temples etc. The two mythical birds on each panel, depicted as a cross between pheasant and peacock, are sharp-beaked. On one both phoenixes have open mouths, on two one’s mouth is open and the other closed (oppositely), and the final has both with closed mouth-- showing perhaps dichotomy and complement, yin and yang. Phoenixes are said to mate for life and live in pines and paulownia (a blue-flowered plant).

Phoenixes are said to appear in the realm when there is a great ruler. Since the Columbian Exposition followed Japan’s Meiji Restoration (opening up, modernization, and strong central government), the phoenix may have been considered an especially appropriate emblem to copy from old buildings and display. Japan was especially eager to show its culture, wares, modernization and strength to the world by donating pavilions and reproductions of temples and tea houses at international expositions. The Phoenix Hall was a highlight of Chicago’s Fair, set apart on the Island that was intended in part to serve as a respite and elaborate garden. (The Tea House was opposite, on the mainland.) The Phoenix Hall (Hoh-o-den) was the first Japanese-style building in the U.S. and is said to have been modeled on the 11th century Byodo-in temple of Uji near Osaka. Skilled craftsmen were sent from Japan and lived during construction in a small village in the south part of Wooded Island. The phoenix panels were made by master sculptor Takamura Kuon (1852-1934). The Phoenix Hall made a special impression on Frank Lloyd Wright, who called special attention to it as, among other things, an “unmasked” structure revealing what can be done with fine craftsmanship and everyday materials, with interconnecting corridors and a holistic flow, in contrast to what he considered the reversion and stilted froth of most of the White City. Others recognized its importance—Harper’s printed the plan and had a reporter chronicle construction.

The 1893 Ho-o-Den (Phoenix "Temple") consisted of three structures joined by covered walkway and suggests the shape of the phoenix bird, which it did resemble from ground level. The beams and joinery were part of the beauty and ornament. Inside were artifacts and treasures from three periods of Japanese history-scrolls, vases, decorative screens, writing materials, and musical instruments. A major feature was the lanterns-- both the elaborate stone ones and the paper lanterns at ceiling level. The elements and art were designed and crafted in Japan and brought over by steamer and train, along with carpenters, stone workers and gardeners. The construction itself was an activity that drew many visitors. A reporter wrote, "They move about serenely as if it were a pleasure to work."

After the Fair, the temple and its panels were given to Chicago by the Japanese government. They suffered gradual neglect, and in 1935 the remaining structure was made a tea house serving food and beverages. A succession of fires occurred in the mid 1940s and destroyed the structure and severely damaged the panels, which were placed in storage by Chicago Park District- under the bleachers of Soldier Field. About 1973, they were found- two were sent to the Art Institute of Chicago and two were displayed in a hallway at the new University of Illinois at Chicago (“Circle Campus”).

Eventually UIC realized money for restoration was unlikely. Now-emeritus UIC professor David Sokol started to look for a new home, first choice being the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2005 he got an enthusiastic “yes” by Janice Katz, Associate Curator of Japanese Art at the Art Institute. The vision was to reunite, restore, and permanently display the panels when the Asian galleries were renovated. The panels were donated in 2008, gallery renovation begun, and in 2010 the panels were sent to be restored by Litas Liparini Studio in Evanston. Restoration was very complex. Soot had to be removed without creating damage, beaks re-carved in linden, based on clay molds, lost areas built up with gesso, and pigment built up over gesso and micaceous replacement for gold applied so as to match present looks and make the panels look “gracefully aged” rather than new. The panels were installed August 1 and 2 of 2011 and are now on permanent view beside other arts and crafts of Japan, sacred and secular, as in the 1893 original installation. Today you can also visit, on Jackson Park’s Wooded Island, Osaka Japanese Garden and Toro gate, tea house, real and replica 1893 stone lanterns and other objects. All are carefully tended by members of Friends of the Japanese Garden and excellent contract firms.