Planned in 1903 as part of the South Park Commission's revolutionary neighborhood park system, Fuller Park did not open to the public until 1911. The first ten south side neighborhood parks: Armour, Cornell, Davis, Russell, and Mark White Squares, and Bessemer, Ogden, Sherman, Hamilton, and Palmer Parks, were completed in 1905. Nationally influential, they provided "breathing spaces" as well as social and recreational services to their congested neighborhoods.
Community protests about the proposed location for Fuller Park delayed its development until a nearby site was selected in 1908. The new site had some difficult conditions; however, landscape architects the Olmsted Brothers were able to make these problems into assets. For instance, unsightly raised train tracks were hidden by an attractive grandstand.
Fuller Park's delay gave architect Edward H. Bennett of D. H. Burnham and Co. an opportunity to refine design concepts. Unlike Bennett's earlier fieldhouses, the first of the building-type nationally, Fuller Park's facility consisted of a symmetrical complex of buildings flanking a central outdoor children's courtyard. Commissioner Judge John Barton Payne donated funds for murals in the fieldhouse assembly hall. Painted by renowned muralist John Warner Norton, the artworks feature scenes of Spanish and French Explorers.
Fuller Park honors Melville W. Fuller (1833-1910), Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1888 until 1910. A leader of the Chicago Bar, Fuller served as counsel for the City of Chicago in riparian rights disputes related to the development of parkland on the lakefront. Fuller served as a South Park Commissioner from 1882 until 1887.