Little Giant of Groveland Park15 comments
On a recent trip to Ottawa, IL, I spent some time in the space where Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas first debated. When I looked at statue of Stephen Douglas, my thoughts instantly went to the Chicago’s South Side.
I imagined the past with trees, farmland, cottages, and Camp Douglas, the prisoner of war camp, to present day Lake Meadows, Groveland Park, and Bronzeville.
In 1852 Stephen A Douglas purchased 70+ acres. He called his land Oakenwald, which was about from McCormick Place along the lakefront to about 35th St. & west to where the Dan Ryan Expressway is today.
Douglas built his cottage on 35th Street which also happens to house his tomb and monument.
I wondered why his statue was facing east towards Lake Michigan. Later, I read it was so he could forever see the Central Railroad tracks. He put together a federal land grant that funded the expansion of the rail line into Chicago. (1836)
When Douglas died in 1861 he was buried near the shores of Lake Michigan near his old cottage. Later some friends commissioned a Memorial & Tomb be built on the land he called Oakenwald.
The extravagant yet simple tomb was designed by Leonard Volk. The Monument was completed in 1883.
Once the Monument was completed in 1883, Douglas was exhumed and moved to tomb.
The area that we know today of Bronzeville, Groveland Park, Lake Meadows, and Oakenwald all originated from some land that was once owned by Stephen A Douglas, a.k.a. Little Giant.
One thing remains true so many years later: the Little Giant will always be a part of Chicago’s South Side.
References and Further Reading
- Chicago: A Personal History of America’s Most American City (book by Finis Farr)
- Douglas (Encyclopedia of Chicago)
Great history and beautiful pics. I know who Stephen Douglas is but didn’t know all of this history. The monument is quite striking!
Thank you Donielle!
I’ve driven passed the monument and didn’t know the history. Very nice.
Thank you Clyde!
This is a extremely informative article. I love reading these historical rich articles. Amazing insightful piece.
You are always very informative with unique insights. Love reading your perspectives.
Thank you we have to meet up for a photos!
Sounds good. I have not been shooting as much as I would like to lately.
I’ve always wondered about this little Victorian cottage. Thank you Andi for the great photos and for shining some light on this interesting bit of history.
I spend a lot of time over there in Groveland Park. There is so much history there. I failed to mention that Douglas called his land Oakenwald. Thank you!
This has some really rich history and cool facts that I didn’t know. Thanks so much for sharing!!!
Thank you so much!
A great deal of history over there in Brozeville!
I lived in one of the homes extant in Groveland Park during WWII years and played in the park and walked with my brothers to the Douglas Tomb to stroll at the base of the monument. I was totally unaware of who Mr. Douglas was until years later.