Summer at the park is not what we pictured just a few months ago. COVID-19 has changed our daily operations in so many ways. We’re happy to be open again on a limited basis but we miss not being able to host our usual slate of concerts, festivals and other events.

Mostly we miss seeing lots of people and families enjoying all the things Cantigny usually offers this time of year. Thanks for your patience as we all look forward to better times ahead.

Fortunately, the pandemic has not slowed our construction progress. Phase II of Project New Leaf remains on track for completion later this summer.

As promised, we are opening areas of the garden as work is completed. The latest example is the Fountain Garden, the centerpiece of the gardens and grounds east of the Visitors Center. You can read all about the new fountain and surrounding vegetation in this issue of NEW LEAF. Even better, come see it for yourself!

If you visit, also check out the new patio and lawn adjacent to the Visitors Center. Lunch is available from Bertie’s Bistro on the patio, which offers a pleasant panoramic view looking east.

New trees and grass are planted in the restored McCormick Allée, the historic “avenue” running south from the mansion. Though not yet open to the public, the allée is easily viewed from the pathway along the project’s northern fence line.

Beyond the allée, a little farther east, is Prairie View. Our current work focus is on this vast, open area featuring a native landscape of trees, prairie grasses and wildflowers. It’s sure to be a favorite wedding site as well, with its covered overlook structure, event lawn and seat wall.

We’re targeting a late summer “grand reopening” of all Phase II areas including Prairie View, an updated Idea Garden, and the all-new Rock Garden where cacti are already thriving in the sun.

Permanent signage to help guide visitors to all Cantigny attractions, new and old, is now in production at South Water Signs in Elmhurst. The signs represent a significant upgrade from the park’s previous wayfinding system. Watch for the first signs to be placed in August.

McCormick House will not reopen in 2020 as we are now preparing the historic home for a full renovation, inside and out—the third and final phase of Project New Leaf. Work on the mansion should begin this fall and finish in 2022.

Thank you for following our progress. We hope you share our excitement for seeing the garden and landscape elements of the project approach completion. When the fences come down, I’m confident you will enjoy the results.

Stay well,
Matt LaFond
Cantigny Park
Executive Director

The new fountain, similar to the original, features seven jets and changing water displays. Underwater LED lights will be turned on during after-hours events, such as wedding receptions.

The new patio on the east side of the Visitors Center opened in June. Already a popular lunch spot, the space will be used for evening events, too.

The restored McCormick Allée, seen here looking south toward the golf course, features two rows of newly planted London Planes. The ground below them was seeded in June.

New trees and native grasses are going into Prairie View, the area east of the McCormick Allée. A small pavilion, seen here in the distance, is located on the site of the former Rose Garden.

The new Rock Garden, nearing completion, promises something entirely new for Cantigny visitors.



Posted by Jeff Reiter

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