- Site (part) bought by Lawrence Heyworth, pres., Chicago Athletic Club,
for private country club
- Successful membership drive among prominent Chicagoans. From start
to be for Roman Catholics.
- Property is 64 1/2 acres and club is in incorporated July 24.
- Charles Fox of (Benjamin) Marshall and Fox is hired to design what
would be the original frame clubhouse. Fox was a founding member. Original
facilities: stables, colonnade, first four golf holes
- Thomas Hawkes draws up landscape plan.
- Gala opening September 29 for its 300 member families
- First equestrian shows
- Golf course finished and opened in May
- Lawn tennis courts open
- Sulky horse racing starts on the oval in front of the clubhouse
- Ballroom of reinforced concrete added at south end of clubhouse—only
original clubhouse section that remains.
- First automobile show
- Clay tennis courts added
- Membership has soared from throughout Chicago, including from many
socially prominent families.
- Membership is capped at 2000 residential memberships.
- Decision is made to build a new clubhouse due to heavy usage
- Original clubhouse moved by tennis courts and renamed Birdcage Club,
for the informally-dressed after their sporting events
- Construction starts on the PRESENT CLUBHOUSE of concrete, adjacent
north(west) to the 1909 ballroom (now Robeson Theater).
- The Marshall and Fox clubhouse opens. Mediterranean Resort Style dressed
in a signature rusty-brick red stucco. $300,000 cost. The concrete clubhouse
has basement and four full floors plus a mezzanine and a small separated-section
fifth floor under the red-tile roof. Features include library, conservatory,
dining facilities (for up to 2,000—formal attire mandatory) and
two floors of "hotel" rooms (shared facilities).
- A new Shooting Cottage is built in English Country Style.
- Front Gardens completed, including two fountains and riding ring.
Unique design drawn from City Beautiful concepts.
- Grand American Skeet Shooting Championships held at the club. Repeats
- Famous visitors include former presidents and future Supreme Court
Chief Justice William Howard Taft.
- Outdoor Pavilion built south of ballroom (theater, bandstand, terrace,
specially decorated dance floor)
- Will Rogers performs. Prominent quests include Queen Marie of Romania
- Jews are formally banned. Members are increasingly Hyde Park and South
- Jean Harlow and Prince Svasti of Thailand are prominent guests; Paul
Whiteman one of several famous performers.
- U.S. Clay Court Tennis Championships
- Lawn bowling greens laid out (no longer extant)
- Applicants (232) outnumber spaces and a waiting list is started
- The Club at last retires its mortgage and all bonded debt.
- Prince Baudoin of Belgium a prominent guest.
- 50th anniversary year-long celebration. Resident membership peaks
at 2,006, Landmarks Commission staff says it peaked in 1957 at 2,200
making it Chicago's larges private golf club.
- The tide turns. South Shore had seen African Americans go from nearly
0% to 8% in three years; white flight picks up, SSCC membership starts
- Residential memberships have fallen 31% to 1,370 despite 154 new applications.
- Spanish Riding School of Vienna (Lippizanners) launches U.S. tour
from SSCC, Jacqueline Kennedy cosponsor.
- Future of the Club openly debated in autumn elections.
- Club markets equestrian events to revive interest and membership,
without much success.
- Stables close and equestrian events are dropped. This accelerates
decline. Membership dropping.
- Facilities are refurbished over two years at $195,000. Debt rises
and club continues to fail.
- Club fails to open membership to Jews and African Americans.
- Club newsletter, published since 1916, ceases publication.
- Membership is down to 731 (63% off peak). 50 applicants are mostly
successorships by widows and children.
- Operating deficit $177,000, decision is made to close the club and
dispose of assets
- Last event, Cotton Ball, held July 13th. Furnishings auctioned in
- Chicago Park District is persuaded to acquire land at $9,775,000.
Possession is taken in September.
- Birdcage Club and Casino (se of original ballroom), deemed unrepairable,
are demolished; intent of District under Ed Kelly is demolish the whole
facility. Kitchen and other facilities are stripped.
- When plans are released to demolish Clubhouse, Stables, colonnade
(pergola) and counter suggestions for a cultural center/arts palace
are rejoined with "They don't need that down there", opposition
erupts. After rallies, forming a Coalition to Save South Shore Country
Club, a moratorium is placed on demolitions.
- In 1975, the SSCC buildings are placed on the National Register of
- New concrete beach house with concessions opens and the old beach
- Stables are re-roofed and lent out to the Chicago Police Mounted Unit.
- After much pressure, the Park District forms a unique three-way partnership
agreement, including as a formal partner the community coalition, and
the District is committed to retain and rehabilitate the Clubhouse as
a cultural center.
- A comprehensive restoration project is begun.
- The Gatehouse is restored. Other than this, the District lags on its
- After more pressure, work starts on a $10 million Clubhouse rehabilitation
- Gala rededication January 8. Cultural programming starts as work continues.
- The new Advisory Council for South Shore Cultural Center starts much
of the cultural programming and partnerships itself and undertakes some
of the landscape provision and tending (official date 1986).
- Pier, jetty, revetment project.
- DeHaan Associates completes restoration of clubhouse interior.
- Clubhouse and colonnade restoration are declared complete, but some
internal work is never quite finished and the upper floors (as well
as part of the basement) remain unoccupied warehousing and the outdoor
theater is not refurbished.
- The Garage and stables are rehabilitated. The Pergola is reconstructed
in this and following years.
- The Shooting Lodge is torn down with what the Council considers inadequate
- Clubhouse Ballroom is rehabilitated and dedicated as Paul Robeson
- Successful arts and performance partnerships with arts organizations,
cultural classes and instruction, practice rooms, and kids programs
and camps remain among the successful uses of the Center. The 9 hole
golf course remains very successful.
- At Council and other insistence, the Park District agrees to hire
McClier company to do a building structure and use survey, including
what could be programmed in the unused floors. Increasing concern is
voiced about access problems.
- The McClier Report shows that with structural improvements the building
will support use of the upper floors for cultural programming and gives
suggestions of how the spaces might be adapted and for what uses. It
also calls for improved emergency and crowd access for the facility.
The Council begins asking for implementation of the McClier Report and
- A framework planning process is announced for South Lakefront parks;
Johnson, Johnson & Roy is hired. A series of workshops is conducted.
- Major cultural events continue, including exhibitions in the new gallery,
plays, concerts, and the South Shore Jazz Festival. Partners have included
Chicago Symphony, Merrit School, South Shore Chorus, Chicago Music Association,
and many others.
- The Council is increasingly concerned about budget cuts for cultural
programs and partnerships and building maintenance. It continues to
call for access improvement and implementation of the McClier Report.
- As framework planning continues, Kemper Sports proposes to set up
Junior Golf where (southeast peninsula) the Council and Alderman were
working with the District to establish a major nature center. Eventually,
Junior Golf is constructed northwest of the clubhouse. And work begins
on a spectacular Nature Center under the District's Department of Natural
- City Colleges of Chicago proposes to build for Washburne Culinary
Institute a temporary training school and kitchen and ongoing continuing
education center and public cafe in the upper floors and other spaces
of the center. This included an offer to shore up structural support.
A long process of consideration begins. The Council then takes the position
that if such a facility comes in, part of the upper floors must be built
out for cultural programming.
- The Framework Plan is completed and adopted. The future for many recommendations
remains uncertain and, judging by past practice, likely to be superseded
by pro tempore projects.
- The District agrees to hire McClier, also hired by City Colleges to
design the Culinary Institute space, to cost out and design space build
out and conversion for cultural programming, as part of a complete building
study and to work with the Council for a fundraising plan.
- The Nature Center opens to great acclaim in 2002, also purple martin
houses are set up elsewhere.
- The programming budget continues to be cut, but great programs are
still held. The Council continues to landscape and raise funds for such
projects as restoration of the Steinway piano and a marquee at the entrance.
- In October preliminary landmark status is granted by the Commission
on Chicago Landmarks.
- Work on the building related to Culinary Institute and possible future
buildout had not started by February due to various budget and other
constraints including a state freeze.
- The budget for the Center was barely cut; the place was buzzing with
programs, but Center Director Efe McWorter and Head Attendant Bob Crocket
were among those taking early retirement.
- In February, the park district asked for an additional 120 days to
consider proposed landmark status.
- The Advisory Council, with Chicago Music Association, was again sponsoring
concerts at the Center.
- A public meeting was held to explain the timetable for the buildout
for Washburne Culinary Institute and the new dance studio on the upper
- Landmark designation was introduced into City Council May 5 and final
designation approved May 26. .
- Washburne Culinary Institute is completed and opened, followed by
Parrot Cage Restaurant.
- The work continues developing and costing out the Master Plan.
- Programs, including directly by the park district, continue to grow.
- December 9, at a celebration of 100 years since first construction
of the Country Club (remaining section houses the former ballroom now
Robeson Theater, the Park District announces commitment of $2 million
to build out the Cultural Center.
- Planning and setting of priorities continues for the Center. Phase
I centerpiece is buildout of the 3rd floor, including dance studios,
meeting and multipurpose rooms. This is completed (including new windows)
and fully utilized, with open house being planned for 2009. Washburne's
school moved to 63rd and Halsted but the kitchens remain for the glorious
Parrot Cage Restaurant (now with an outdoor patio) and both culinary
school and community classes. The Center is prioritized as a center
of activity and showcase (partly because of then-projected Olympics
in 2016). Work undertaken includes the grand lobby (including new carpet
and grand furniture) and Robeson Theater. Further planning continued,
including for redone parking lots, a small fitness center, a refurbished
and named Margaret Burroughs Foyer and Art Gallery, and the outdoor
- The Center and Advisory Council continue to assemble an array of new
arts and music partners and providers as well as its own programs. The
kind of rentals and events to be held is revised as appropriate for
this special and historic facility. New partners included South Shore
Opera and the Center hosted concerts of the Civic Orchestra and Chicago
Music Association and many other activities from films and rodeos to
jazz festivals and art openings. .
- The Council holds fundraising galas and begins to gain new, younger
- Many new partners were added to bring public concerts and performances
to the Center- truly a hopping place
- Considerable exterior work was done, adding to the new carpeting,
improvements to Robeson Theater, and new parking lots
- In October it was announced a $2.483 Progress Illinois grant for the
facility. Work is to start in late 2012 on exterior restorations and
the Outdoor Theater. Also a very generous grant from the Silberman Estate
was used to create a grand garden near Robeson Theater and repair irrigation
in the main garden, and will be used to purchase risers for Robeson.
The state rescinded the grants but there is possibility of some restoration.
In 2016-17 CPD undertakes various repairs.