November 21, 2007
Clarendon Municipal Bathing Beach, Pavilion
What a gorgeous pavilion this was prior to renovation! Clarendon Municipal Bathing Beach, where Weiss Hospital now stands, could accommodate thousands of bathers a day.
According to the Chicago Park District, the beach was constructed in 1915, taking its name from Clarendon Avenue, which in turn was named for English statesmen Edward Hyde, the first Earl of Clarendon. The pavilion was completed in 1916. Clarendon was the largest bathing beach in the country, attracting 425,000 paying visitors the first summer and almost 2 million a year by 1929. It had two towers, separate locker areas for men and women, a playroom, and a laundry facility. It could accommodate more than 9,000 swimmers and had a promenade for thousands of spectators. It rented out bathing suits, towels, and lockers.
The beach was very popular through the 1930s. When Lincoln Park was expanded up to Foster Avenue, Clarendon lost its lake frontage. The city converted the building into a community center, "adding gymnasiums, club rooms, a playground, and an athletic field." A major renovation in 1972 resulted in the removal of the elaborate towers and roof tiles. Today, it holds a gymnasium, boxing ring, fitness center, and meeting rooms. Programs include after school sports, aerobics, and preschool activities.
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