Created by the Irving Park District, Kilbourn Park takes its name from adjoining Kilbourn Street, named in honor of a small town located near the Wisconsin Dells. The Irving Park District had formed in 1910 to create and manage parks for its tree-lined, middle-class neighborhood. Fifteen years later, the district acquired the site for Kilbourn Park and improvements began. 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. A unique feature, the greenhouse was used to display tropical plants and to propagate outdoor plants for use throughout the entire Irving Park District.
Clarence Hatzfeld designed all three of the buildings in Kilbourn Park. Having been trained in the office of Chicago architect Julius Huber, Hatzfeld became known for numerous north- and northwest-side park fieldhouses, commercial buildings, and residences. During the Depression, he worked for the Chicago Park District, which formed in 1934 through the consolidation of the city's 22 independent park agencies. Hatzfeld went on to serve as Recreation Technician for the Federal Works Administration in Washington, D.C.
In the late 1930s, the Chicago Park District planted a large perennial garden in Kilbourn Park. Although the original garden was not maintained, a renewed interest in gardening at Kilbourn Park has sparked a volunteer program in the greenhouse and a new perennial garden outside. Additionally, the park district has been able to provide increased recreational programming since the Kilbourn Park fieldhouse underwent a major expansion in 1991.
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