Humboldt Park Boathouse Pavilion
by: chicago designslinger
[Humboldt Park Boathouse Pavilion (1907) Schmidt, Garden & Martin, architects (2002) restoration, Bauer Latoza Studio, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
The Humboldt Park Boathouse harkens back to a time when people were content to spend a summer afternoon or evening taking a leisurely paddle in a small rented boat on a man-made lagoon. This was the era of our grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents, well before air conditioning, tv, the internet, and smart phones consumed our time and dominated our interests - leisure or otherwise.
[Humboldt Park Boat House Pavilion, 1359 N. Sacramento Boulevard, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]
Designed in 1907 by architects Schmidt, Garden & Martin, the building replaced a structure constructed at the time the park was being developed in the late 1870s. Thirty years later, former gardener and now superintendent of the West Park System Jens Jensen, turned to the Prairie Style inspired team to design a building which would fit nicely into Jensen's redo of the park's Victorian landscape. It helped that the older building was falling apart and needed some sort of overhaul due to years of neglect. Park commissioners who had a large pool of money under their control, had been diverting funds for Humboldt's maintenance and upkeep into vast patronage payrolls made up of friends and family. Jensen, who was no stranger to political machinations, had actually been appointed to oversee the park once before, but when he tried to buck the ward bosses they let him know just who was boss and fired him. He returned a few years later under reform minded politicians intent on cleaning-up the park's oversight.
[Humboldt Park Boathouse Pavilion, City of Chicago Landmark /Image & Artwork: designslinger]
The boathouse, sometimes known as the pavilion, or refectory (a word that comes to us from medieval times and referred to the dining hall of a monastery) provided food from a concessionaire, respite from the sun under the large hip roof, and served as a staging area for the music court - which is now serves as a parking lot. The park went through some tough times in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, becoming a haven for gang bangers and drug dealers, and the boathouse was shut-up and sat empty and forlorn for a couple of decades. But in 2002, with a renewed commitment from the Chicago Park District, Bauer Latoza Studio was brought in to oversee the renovation and restoration of the building, returning the structure back to its original condition.