Just over a year ago, we announced major revitalization plans for Cantigny, the former home of Robert R. McCormick in Wheaton. We didn’t have a name for our project at the time, only big plans for the estate’s gardens, grounds and museums.
Project New Leaf is still years from completion, but progress came quickly in 2017. On August 26, the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park reopened after a 10-month renovation. If you’ve had a chance to visit, we hope you agree that our world-class military museum is better than ever—as an educational resource and as a tribute to those who served or serve today.
“Better than ever” aptly describes our goal for Cantigny Park overall. Through Project New Leaf, the McCormick Foundation is investing to ensure a superior guest experience for current and future generations of visitors.
Colonel McCormick, our benefactor, would want nothing less. We honor and share his vision for Cantigny as a community gathering place for learning and recreation.
More progress is on the way. Next spring our new farm-themed playground will open to visitors, followed by a grand reopening of the redesigned Display Gardens and Pond Garden. These areas will be signature attractions at Cantigny for many years to come.
Also coming in 2018: a thoroughly updated Visitors Center, including a grand new entrance for Le Jardin; construction of the Red Oak Colonnade; an expanded south parking lot with 350 new spaces; and a welcome pavilion situated between the south parking lot and First Division Museum, with seating, restrooms and visitor information.
Though still on the drawing table, changes are in store for Robert R. McCormick’s former residence as well. We envision the mansion becoming much more than a museum. Ideas under review include spaces for meetings and receptions and creating opportunities for civic learning and social engagement. Structural work on McCormick House is ongoing as we preserve one of Chicagoland’s most cherished historic landmarks.
As Project New Leaf enters its second year, we thank you for your patience and steadfast support. The park will stay open throughout 2018, and current plans call for the return of favorite events such as our outdoor symphony concerts and LEGO Train Show.
This is truly an exciting time in Cantigny’s history. The staff is energized, and feedback from park visitors is positive. We all see a good thing getting even better! With much more work ahead, we hope for a light winter and early spring.
Best wishes for the holidays and see you in 2018!
Executive Director, Cantigny Park
December 18, 2017