Tucked away just south of Lawrence Avenue and east of Narragansett Avenue, Dunham Park serves its west Portage Park community residents with a number of athletic and recreational activities and events. Basketball and indoor soccer are two mainstay sports at the park.
For those who enjoy all sports, Dunham Park offers a sports club that provides practice and preparation for regional and citywide athletic tournaments; these may include flag football, wrestling, volleyball, tumbling, and floor hockey. The park also provides an indoor soccer league, instruction in baseball and recreational gymnastics, as well as arts& crafts. Smaller children join in preschool classes, playgroup, or moms, pops and tots classes (which involve parental interaction). .
In the summer, Dunham offers a fun-filled and affordable 6-week day camp and play camp for community children.
The Chicago Park District and Dunham Park are proud to partner with the Dunham Boys Baseball Organization and the Dunham Park Girls Softball Association to provide boys and girls ages 5 – 18 the opportunity to play baseball/softball in some of Chicago’s oldest and finest leagues.
Outdoors, Dunham Park features a senior baseball field, four junior baseball fields, a softball field, two tennis courts, a multi-purpose court, a playground, and a water spray feature.
In 1945, at the end of World War II, Robert J. Dunham, President of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners, announced a major new initiative to bring the benefits of parks and recreation to every neighborhood in the city. As part of this effort to create new parks for the first time in many years, a citizens' advisory committee submitted a list of recommended sites in 1948. Among them was a 14-acre site in the rapidly growing Portage Park neighborhood. The park district had to condemn land from reluctant home owners, an issue which even led to protesters filing into a 1945 board meeting. After the entire site was acquired in 1951, the Engineering Department created a plan for the new park. The park district began some improvements in 1953, however all of the houses on the site were not razed until 1958. By the early 1960s, the park included an athletic field, a children's playground, tennis courts, and a comfort station. Finally, in 1976, the district constructed a modern fieldhouse in the park. When the park district's naming committee made its proposals in the early 1950s, they suggested that one of the new parks be named in honor of Robert J. Dunham (1876-1948). Born and raised in Chicago, Dunham was the oldest son of Captain James Sears Dunham, one of the city's leading mariners. Dunham became a prominent Chicago businessman, responsible for organizing the Universal Oil Products Company. He entered public life during the Depression as Chairman of the Illinois Emergency Relief Commission in 1933. The following year, the city's 22 independent park boards were consolidated into the Chicago Park District, and Dunham was appointed its first president, continuing to serve in that capacity through 1945.
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