After spending time with my daughter in Old Irving Park, Chicago, I decided to explore Kilbourne Park, where my better half, who has been in my life for a decade, grew up. It was a beautiful, cool day where I spent time in the park enjoying the walk, exercise that I needed and was greeted by many that were doing the same. At the corner of Kenneth and Roscoe, I continued to explore the neighborhood, specifically checking out the house at 3342 Kenneth. Someone was celebrating a party, as you can see in the photo. He had moved into the house in 1960 from the time he was 5-11 years old. His father worked for the Chicago Post Office. His mother worked at Slidematic, located at 4520 W Addison St, still in business today. A diverse, middle-class neighborhood with several houses and apartment buildings, celebrating the beauty of their homes with home-made gardens and flower baskets.
According to the Chicago Park District, Kilbourne Park was created by the Irving Park District, which was formed in 1910 and managed three parks in the area. Fifteen years later, the Chicago Park District acquired the site. By the late 1920s, the park’s recreational features included athletic fields, a running track, horseshoe and tennis courts, an 18-hole putting green, two playgrounds, a children’s wading pool, a sand box, and penned-in rabbits. Kilbourn Park also had a fieldhouse, maintenance building, and greenhouse. In the 1990’s, the park went through major renovation. Today, the park offers some great summer activities for children and adults, including a children’s day camp. There is a basketball league for young teenagers, both male and female. Garden Buddies meet next week to attract toddlers to nature.
Getting back in my car, I continued enjoying the expansive architecture that has become a national landmark. The Whistle Stop Inn has held a variety of businesses but was established as a Chicago landmark in 1990. The ornate building was built in 1889 and is located at 4200 W. Irving Park Road. Another national treasure is the Ropp-Grabill House which became part of the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. It was linked to the Underground Railroad because there were many tunnels under the house used to protect slaves, and it has been truly one of the most preserved. The home was tastefully restored by a single owner and last sold in 2019, located at 4132 North Keeler. The Digital Research Library offers a great historical account of how the suburb of Irving Park was annexed to Chicago.