Little Giant of Groveland Park

Andi Marie 14 comments
Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

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.

Stephen Douglas statue in Ottawai, IL. Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

Stephen Douglas statue in Ottawa, IL. Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

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.

Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

Douglas built his cottage on 35th Street which also happens to house his tomb and monument.

Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

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)

Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

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.

Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

The extravagant yet simple tomb was designed by Leonard Volk. The Monument was completed in 1883.

Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

Once the Monument was completed in 1883, Douglas was exhumed and moved to tomb.

Public domain image of Stephen Douglas, via Wikipedia

Public domain image of Stephen Douglas, via Wikipedia

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.

Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

Andi Marie/Chicago Patterns

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

 



14 responses to “Little Giant of Groveland Park”

  1. Donielle says:

    Great history and beautiful pics. I know who Stephen Douglas is but didn’t know all of this history. The monument is quite striking!

  2. Clyde Davis says:

    I’ve driven passed the monument and didn’t know the history. Very nice.

  3. Teneil says:

    This is a extremely informative article. I love reading these historical rich articles. Amazing insightful piece.

  4. Abena says:

    You are always very informative with unique insights. Love reading your perspectives.

  5. John Morris John Morris says:

    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.

    • Andi Marie Andi Marie says:

      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!

  6. Tacoen Lam says:

    This has some really rich history and cool facts that I didn’t know. Thanks so much for sharing!!!

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