by Kathy Andrews Wright
As the design for Lincoln Memorial Garden came to fruition in the 1930s, Jens Jensen, a leader of the Prairie School of landscape architecture and one of Illinoisâ€™ earliest conservationists, envisioned a series of connected paths, bordered by arrangements of native plants and punctuated by council rings, that would invite visitors to pause and reflect on the Garden. In the spirit of the invitation Mr. Jensen continues to issue visitors, the Board of Directors has authorized improvements to the Nature Center and grounds.
Phase one of the redevelopment process entails renovation of the Nature Center, with the work to be complete by early September. The interior redesign focuses on enhancing the vista of the Garden through the existing floor-to-ceiling windows. This has involved revamping both the reception area and the Split Rail Gift Shop and creating more efficient work environments for the executive director and staff. A shift to an LED lighting system will decrease energy and maintenance needs. Office improvements also will allow staff and volunteers the opportunity to organize and archive more than 80 years of historical records. These improvements were funded with minimal expenditures from the Gardenâ€™s Capital Improvement Fund and enhanced with generous donations from Staff Carpet for the executive directorâ€™s office and from the Illinois Realtors for the filing cabinets.
Fundraising is underway for phase two of the initiative, which will develop an accessible, paved trail to allow people of all abilities, as well as families with strollers, the opportunity to experience the beauty and serenity of our native landscape and learn firsthand the intent of Jens Jensenâ€™s design. The revamped Linden Trail will provide visitors a direct link from the Nature Center to Council Ring 3, located northwest of the Nature Center.
Approaching the Nature Center entry, visitors will find a new half-circle stone seating area reminiscent of the design of the Gardenâ€™s many council rings. This will provide a gathering place and additional outdoor classroom space for visitors, school groups and educational events. The improvements will also correct a drainage problem that has been allowing water, mud and ice to pool near the entry door. An estimated $100,000 must be raised for this phase, and construction will commence once fundraising has been completed.
If you are interested in learning more about these exciting site improvements or making a donation for the projects, please contact Executive Director Joel Horwedel.roulette222lu.com