Located near the intersection of Irving Park Road and Narragansett Avenue in the Dunning community, Merrimac Park sits on approximately 9 acres and features a fieldhouse with a gymnasium, 5 clubrooms, and a kitchen. Outdoors, the park offers 2 small walking trails, 3 softball fields, playground, and spray pool.
The park staff offers a wide range of sports and fitness programming for community residents of all levels and age groups. We invite you to check out our woodshop, where youth, adults and seniors enjoy learning to use scroll and band saws to create a variety of wood projects.
Merrimac Park is noted for its annual Breakfast with the Easter Bunny and Downhill Derby, featuring small race cars crafted by youth under the supervision of the park’s woodshop instructor.The park is also the site of one of the local social clubs for seniors.
Soon after World War II, the Chicago Park District began a major initiative to create new parks for the first time in many years. In 1948, a citizens' advisory committee for new parks recommended a number of potential sites. Among them was a 9-acre picnic and dance ground in the rapidly growing Dunning neighborhood. Known as Kolze's Electric Grove, the site dated to the 1890s, when hotel owner Henry Kolze decided to create an attraction for riders of newly-reaching streetcar lines. Purchasing wooded land near his inn, Kolze strung large gas lamps, offered a nightly orchestra, and beer at a nickel a glass. In 1950, the park district condemned Kolze's Electric Grove, and demolished the site's dance shelter, concession stands, raffle tables, and cafeteria. Retaining many of the older trees, the park district transformed the site into parkland between 1951 and 1956, installing an athletic field, a children's playground, and tennis and basketball courts. At that time, the original clapboard dining hall and tavern structure was converted for use as a fieldhouse. In 1969, the park district replaced the structure with a modern brick fieldhouse. In the early 1950s, when the park district naming committee began its proposal for this site, there was a controversy about whether the Kolze's Grove name should be retained. Although some favored the continuation of the name, an informal park district survey revealed that the old hotel and picnic grove had gained an "unsavory reputation" over the years. Merrimac Park was selected as a preferable alternative. Derived from the Native American word for sturgeon, the name Merrimac had become closely associated with this neighborhood. The park was located just west of Merrimac Avenue and the Merrimac Gardens subdivision, and the local community organization was known as the Merrimac Gardens Association.