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Art in Chicago Parks

Thanks to early visionaries in the development of Chicago, there are several parks in the Chicago area which currently house WPA art. The following excerpts are from the website of the Chicago Park District located at

Fuller Park
331 W. 45th Street
(312) 747-6144
Open Mon-Fri 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM; Sat-Sun 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
“In the 1930′s the Work Projects Administration (WPA) decorated Fuller Park’s auditorium with murals which depict scenes representing the pioneering spirit of the West. WPA artists applied oil-based paints to canvas attached to the auditorium walls. The Park District restored the murals in the 1980′s”.

Palmer Park
200 E 111th Street
“Later that year (1934), park district art director James Edward McBurney created three murals for Palmer Park as a Works Progress Administration project funded by the federal government. The three are: “Native Americans,” “explorers,” and “Dutch settlers.” McBurney painted other notable Chicago murals at Wentworth School, Tilden High School, and Woodlawn National Bank.”

Davis Square Park
4430 S Marshfield Avenue
“Included in Davis Square’s classically-designed fieldhouse is a notable mural entitled Constructive Recreation: the Vital Force in Character Building. Painted by William Edouard Scott, an African-American muralist whose work received critical acclaim, it was originally displayed in another south side park.”

Gage Park
2415 W 55th Street
(Although not funded by the WPA, Tom Lea is a well-known WPA FAP artist)
“The classical structure, designed by in-house architects, was constructed two years later (1928), and jointly dedicated by the South Park Commissioners and the Gage Park Citizens Improvement Club. Within a few years, two murals adorned the building’s interior. One of them, located in an office, portrays folkway traditions of local immigrants. The auditorium mural, painted by acclaimed artist Tom Lea in 1931, depicts explorers and pioneers looking westward as a heavenly figure in the clouds points the way.”

Eugene Field Park
3732 W Foster Avenue
“In 1928, Clarence Hatzfeld, a member of the park board and architect of many northwest side recreational, commercial, and residential buildings, designed a Tudor Revival-style fieldhouse for the park. A stone grotto and fountain originally graced the front of the fieldhouse. Inside, a Federal Works Progress Administration artist created a mural entitled “The Participation of Youth in the Realm of the Arts.”"

Nichols Park
1342 E 54th Street
“The park district’s 1991 acquisition of the property brought Nichols Park to more than ten acres, and the new park land soon had a formal garden, a fountain, and a grassy courtyard. The park honors artist and urban planner John Fountain Nichols (1912-1980), a life-long resident of Hyde Park. A student of the Art Institute of Chicago, Nichols participated in the Federal Artists’ Project during the Great Depression. (One of his many murals can be found at the north side Lane Technical High School.) After returning to his studies and earning a BFA during World War II, he taught art in south side public schools, later becoming an architectural draftsman. During the 1950s and 1960s, Nichols worked for the Department of Urban Renewal, developing plans to rehabilitate his Hyde Park neighborhood. After his retirement in the 1970s, Nichols continued to participate in arts-related events at Murray School, which sits adjacent to the park.”


Chicago Park Field Houses with Murals (not all WPA):

Park Address Artist Title Year Program
Calumet Park Field House 9801 S. Avenue G Tom Lea (WPA artist) “Illinois Heritage Series” 1927-1928 unknown
Davis Square Park Field House (originally in another South Side Park) 4430 S. Marshfield William Edouard Scott unknown unknown unknown
Eugene Park Field House 5100 N. Ridgeway Ave. P.A.C. “The Participation of Youth in the Arts” and “Portrait of Eugene Field” no date WPA
Fuller Park Field House 331 W. 45th Pl. unknown “French Explorer Series” no date WPA
Gage Park Field House 2415 W. 55th St. unknown unknown no date unknown
Hamilton Park Field House 513 W. 72nd St. John W. Norton “American Heritage Series” 1916 unknown
Independence Park Field House 3945 N. Springfield M. R. Decker “May the Spirit of 1776 Live On” 1937 unknown
Jefferson Park Field House 4822 N. Long Ave. unknown “Historical Portrait Series” 1934 unknown
Nichols Park (named after John F. Nichols, WPA muralist) 1342 E. 54th n/a no mural n/a n/a
Palmer Park Field House 11100 S. Indiana Ave. James Edwin McBurney “American Scenes” 1934 unknown
Park Administration Building 425 McFetridge Max Kahn and Eleanor Coen “Steel Mill” watercolor (MK) and “Horses in a Field” watercolor (EC) 1940 WPA
Pulaski Park Field House 1419 W. Blackhawk Jas Oilgert “Allegorical Scene” 1924 or 1926 unknown
Sayre Park Field House 6851 W. Belden Ave. unknown “Portrait of Samuel Rutherford” 1930s unknown
Sherman Park Field House 1301 W. 52nd St. Beatrice Braidwood, George Steinberg, Anita Parkhurst, Roy Tyrrell, Nouart Seron, Paul Sargent, and Lucille Patterson “The New World Series” 1930s unknown
Warren Park Field House 6621 N. Western George Hruska and Class “Native American Village” 1941 unknown



Indian Boundary Park - although there is no WPA mural in this field house, there is an abundance of art incorporated into the building.



“Art Exhibition Shows Work of Park Painters” July 7, 1940, Chicago Daily Tribune (pdf)