Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Discover Caldwell’s Hidden Garden

Step through the Prairie-style Fullerton gate and enter a hidden garden of unmatched beauty. Only bird songs and the sound of a gentle waterfall break the restful silence. Follow the stone walk encircling the lily pool and discover a pavilion, council ring, and diverse native plantings. This is the vision of landscape architect Alfred Caldwell: a hidden garden for the people of Chicago designed to resemble a river meandering through a great Midwestern prairie.

Restoration and Maintenance

In 1997, we adopted the Lily Pool and, with the Chicago Park District, created a Master Plan to restore Caldwell’s historic landscape and improve accessibility. Construction of the $2.4 million project began in 2000 and the re-named Lily Pool opened to the public in spring 2002. Once again, a “cool, refreshing, clear place” the restoration earned the site National Historic Landmark and Chicago Historical Landmark status. We have faithfully maintained the site ever since.

A cool, refreshing, clear place of trees and stones and running water.

– Alfred Caldwell, Landscape Architect (1903 – 1998)

The History

The site of the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool was originally part of a Victorian garden built in 1889 that displayed tropical lilies and other aquatic plants. When the Victorian-style garden fell out of popularity, the Lily Pool fell into disrepair until 1936 when Alfred Caldwell redesigned the pool and its surrounding area.

Alfred Caldwell portrait by Helen Balfour Morrison, copyright The Morrison-Shearer Foundation, Northbrook, IL, 2015.

Video courtesy of June Finfer, Lost and Found Productions. www.lostandfoundproductions.org

Recent Posts

Many people love the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. It has become a place of respite from the City, and recently from COVID-19. But what do you know about its long history in the Park? As we celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the Conservancy’s and......

The Summer is halfway over and we have been busy in the Park with volunteers and an increased staff presence. While stewardship volunteer numbers are still down about 30% compared to 2019, we surpassed 2020 metrics long ago, now having nearly doubled last year’s numbers.......

The North Pond restoration project is rounding its final corner to be ready to begin work this fall. Recently the Conservancy met with the Chicago Park District to share 95% design plans and receive final comments and questions from various CPD departments. With that process......

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