Located in the South Lawndale community, Shedd Park totals 1.13 acres and features a field house with a gymnasium and upstairs auditorium with a stage. Outside, the park offers basketball courts, a playground and an interactive water spray feature. Shedd Park's playground was renovated in Fall 2015 as part of Mayor Emanuel’s Chicago Plays! Program.
Park-goers can play basketball and table games at the facility. After school programs are offered throughout the school year, and in the summer youth attend the Park District’s popular six-week day camp.
In addition to programs, Shedd Park hosts fun special events throughout the year for the whole family, such as holiday events and Movies in the Park.
Born on a farm in New Hampshire, John Graves Shedd (1850-1926) began working as a store clerk at the age of 17. He decided to go west and arrived in Chicago in 1872. Striving to work at the "biggest store in town," Shedd took a $10-a-week job as stockboy in the Field, Leiter and Company Store. He quickly rose to higher positions. Promoted to partner in what was then Marshall Field and Company in 1893, Shedd became vice-president in 1901 and then president of the store after Marshall Field died in 1906. Among his numerous charitable efforts and contributions, Shedd donated $3 million to the South Park Commissioners to build the Shedd Aquarium in Grant Park.
In 1885, Shedd began developing part of South Lawndale's Millard and Decker subdivision. To enhance the area and its property values, he reserved 1.13 acres for what was initially called Shedd's Park. Although Shedd intended to improve the private park through a local assessment, his neighbors did not want to be taxed, and they suggested that it should be made a public park. In 1888, he sold the site to the city, reserving a small lot on the park's north side for the construction of a Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad station.
Ten years later, the city transferred the unimproved park to the West Park Commission. Shortly thereafter, the railroad delivered, free of charge, 196 carloads of soil for planted slopes to screen the train tracks. Shedd helped the commissioners gain title to the train station lot in 1914, and the building was demolished.
Two years later, probably based on the recommendation of landscape architect Jens Jensen, the commission hired Prairie School architect William Drummond to design the Shedd Park fieldhouse. In 1928, the firm of Michaelsen & Rognstad designed a gymnasium addition, well incorporated with the original Prairie-style building.
Mondays at 1pm